Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is feeling like a rock star these days. At least that is what he compared himself with on Wednesday at the Southeastern Conference Media Days in Hoover, Ala.
“The spotlight is 10 times brighter and 10 times hotter than I thought it was two months ago,” Manziel said. “I guess I feel like Justin Beiber or something. I never thought it would really be that way.”
The Texas A&M quarterback, accompanied by school officials, had cameras in his face as he arrrived for interview sessions with the media.
One of the first questions he dealt with the reason for leaving the Manning Passing Camp last weekend. Manziel said he overslept for a meeting after his cellphone battery died. Camp officials reported that he was ill.
Pressed on whether he was hung over, Manziel responded, “Absolutely not,” but he stopped short of saying whether or not he drank alcohol. However, a photo appeared on Twitter with Manziel and Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron at a bar near Nichols State University.
Manziel did say he was sorry.
“There’s no excuse for it. Absolutely my fault,” Manziel said.
Since he became the first freshman to win the Heisman, he has faced public scrutiny for everything from his comments on social media, his vacations and his online classes to avoid fellow students. And on Monday, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge stemming from an altercation last summer.
“I feel like, to be honest, I haven’t done anything criminal this offseason,” he said. “I haven’t done anything like that. I’ve made my mistakes. I’m still growing up. I’m still learning from that.
“At the end of the day, I’m going to continue to make mistakes and the big thing for me is to learn from them and not make the same one twice.”
Manziel, a 20-year-old redshirt sophomore, expressed his regret to A&M coach Kevin Sumlin for bringing negative attention to the program.
“I told him I felt like the deal really got blown out of proportion, and I’m sorry for that, for the way it was spun and the way it was taken out of context,” Manziel said. “I never meant to make A&M look bad, or especially him. Me and coach Sumlin have such a special relationship and I never would have wanted to upset him.”