But coaches will not change any practice plans for their quarterbacks in regard to the allegations, raised in an ESPN report, that Manziel accepted thousands of dollars for signing memorabilia in violation of NCAA rules.
“Your reaction is one of, ‘OK, let’s find out the facts,’” said Sumlin, adding that school officials learned of the Manziel-related allegations Sunday. “Until we have the facts, your reaction is not important.”
Sumlin said “a lot of people” would be involved in making a decision on whether Manziel would play in the team’s Aug. 31 season opener against Rice if his NCAA eligibility status remains clouded at that time. But Manziel will practice today with teammates and take “as many snaps as he would have taken” if Sunday’s report had not surfaced because part of A&M’s focus in the early stages of camp will be to develop backup quarterbacks.
Other than Manziel, only one quarterback on campus – Matt Joeckel, a junior from Arlington High School – has taken snaps in a college game. Joeckel has thrown only 11 passes in his college career.
Manziel racked up 5,116 yards of total offense last year and accounted for 47 touchdowns (26 passing, 21 rushing).
Sumlin said he spoke with Manziel Sunday and will do so again to try and learn the facts in regard to the allegations. He conceded the issues surrounding Manziel, combined with the recent death of defensive end Polo Manukainiu “could be” distractions, if players allow them to be, but coaches will work hard to prevent that from happening.
Sumlin said the allegations regarding Manziel “come with the territory of a high-profile player” and that he was not annoyed by the situation.
A&M officials said there was a mutual understanding that Manziel not take part in today’s news conference but he will be allowed to speak later in fall camp. Sumlin called Manziel’s silence a “one-day thing” and stressed that he remains a key cog on this team.
“Johnny is our quarterback. Until I’m told differently by coach Sumlin, we’re going to proceed like Johnny is our quarterback,” said offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney.
A&M running back Ben Malena said the Manziel situation should not distract teammates.
“With that situation, we don’t worry about it at all. We’re just focusing on getting better as a team,” Malena said. “With our team, it starts with him. He’s our starting quarterback. He still has all the leadership qualities he displayed last year. All the off-the-field issues, it doesn’t bother us one bit.”
_ Jimmy Burch