BEREA -- Two members of an exclusive fraternity will share the field tonight when Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland Browns take on Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C.
Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy in 2011 after reversing the fortunes of a once downtrodden Baylor football program, and, one year later, Manziel made history in becoming the first freshman ever to win the nation's top award for college football players.
"I think, being a Texas guy, it's always cool when you're playing against somebody from the state of Texas who grew up playing Texas high school football, and then, playing in a school in the state of Texas," Manziel said.
"You look at 'RG3' (and) I think he's an excellent player, a guy that was a little banged up last year, but we'll see. Hopefully, this year, he can get back to the form (of) what he was doing as a rookie. Obviously, (I'm) a big fan, a guy that's going to be fun being out on the field, likes to extend some plays with his legs, which is similar to what I do. He played in this offense, so that's another thing that matches up, as well. I think he's an excellent young quarterback."
Griffin III spent two years under the direction of new Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and when Manziel spent time with Washington's quarterback during the offseason, he picked his brain about the schemes.
"We talked a little bit at the Heisman House commercial over the summer in Los Angeles," Manziel recalled, "and we were sitting there in-between takes just kind of talking about the reads, going through the offense, just little things on how Kyle was through the year, game planning, getting ready for the games and kind of the things he liked and disliked. There are certain plays that are really a staple of this offense I got a chance to ask him about, as well."
After returning to Berea from the trip to Los Angeles, Manziel and Shanahan watched film of Griffin running the offense in Washington in 2012, a year in which he completed 258 of 393 attempts for 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns against five interceptions, while rushing for 815 yards and seven scores for a Redskins team that went 9-6 in his 15 starts.
"We get to see some of the earlier parts where they were just installing some of the stuff too, and you can tell Robert is a little hesitant on some things, too, being a rookie and going through it," Manziel said. "At the same time, I think he did a very good job of grasping it and executing it when he was in there his rookie year.
"We watch a lot of film from Washington and the things that they had to do that year. (I'm) always trying to take away as much as I can from being in similar situations with him, as far as being a rookie and going out and trying to execute this offense."
Learning how to execute the offense is exactly what Manziel has attempted to do since training camp opened up more than three weeks ago, and at times, "it gets frustrating" for the rookie quarterback. However, Manziel is working on getting better on a day-to-day basis.
"Yeah, it gets frustrating," Manziel said. "I think anytime that you get into a new system and you're not 100 percent sure what you're doing and you're an extremely competitive person, you want to come out and you want to do well.
"The days that you struggle, I think it's part of it. At the same time, it's hard to get over that hump and push through and know that the next day, you've just got to come out and try and forget about what happened in the past and learn from that and move on. That's what I've tried to do."