Manziel, from Kerrville, Texas, was one of only two freshmen among the semifinalists along with Oregon's Marcus Mariota. Joining Manziel and Mariota as O'Brien semifinalists were Matt Barkley of USC, Tajh Boyd of Clemson, Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville, Colby Cameron of Louisiana Tech, Seth Doege of Texas Tech, Nick Florence of Baylor, Landry Jones of Oklahoma, Collin Klein of Kansas State, EJ Manuel of Florida State, AJ McCarron of Alabama, Braxton Miller of Ohio State, Aaron Murray of Georgia, Denard Robinson of Michigan and Geno Smith of West Virginia.
In the NCAA FBS statistics, Manziel ranks No. 3 in total offense (379.9 yards per game), tied for No. 4 in points responsible for (20.6 points per game) and No. 15 in passing (279.4 yards per game). He is the NCAA's top freshman in all three categories.
Already this season, Manziel has broken the Southeastern Conference record for single game total offense twice. He broke the old SEC record of 540 set originally by Archie Manning of Ole Miss in 1969 and matched by Rohan Davey of LSU in 2001 with 557 total yards against Arkansas. He broke it against two games later with 576 total yards against Louisiana Tech.
Manziel's strong play has helped the Aggies to a 5-2 overall record and a No. 20 ranking in the most recent Bowl Championship Series standings. He leads the Aggies with 703 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns and 1,956 passing yards with 14 scores.
Narrowed down from all 124 starting quarterbacks from NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision schools, semifinalists were selected by the Davey O'Brien National Selection Committee, with the Fan Vote accounting for five percent of the total vote. The committee was asked to consider the following criteria: quarterback skills, athletic ability, academics, character, leadership and sportsmanship.