BEREA, Ohio (AP) — They came to see what he’s all about, to see if Johnny Football can be the one to lead the Browns back to glory.
On Saturday, Manzielmania grew even bigger.
With No. 2 jerseys ringing the field, celebrated rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel began his quest to win Cleveland’s starting job.
Strutting onto the field with his usual swagger, Manziel is taking part in his first NFL training camp practice and thousands of fans have arrived to get an up-close look at the 21-year-old sensation who electrified college football with his uncanny playmaking. Fans began lining up outside the Browns’ training complex at 5 a.m. to secure the closest possible spots near the practice fields.
Manziel, the former Heisman Trophy winner who was drafted in the first round by the Browns, walked out of Cleveland’s locker room at 9:22 a.m. as House of Pain’s “Jump Around” blared through loudspeakers.
On Friday, Manziel, who will battle Brian Hoyer to be the starter, acknowledged he made “some rookie mistakes” with an offseason filled with partying.
He vows to be all about football now, and his every move will be dissected over the next few weeks as he and Hoyer compete.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam hopes Manziel sticks to his word and changes his behavior.
“He made some mistakes. We expect better from him,” Haslam said following practice. “I’m sure he’ll perform. We’re anxious to see what he can do on the field, which is what really counts.”
Haslam used LeBron James, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Derek Jeter as examples of athletes Manziel should try to model himself after.
“The really great athletes make their news on the field, not off the field,” Haslam said.
Hoyer took the first reps with Cleveland’s starting offense, and his first pass was a completion to wide receiver Austin Miles.
Manziel was behind center a few plays later, and after dropping deep in the pocket, his first pass attempt toward the sidelined sailed long, beyond the outstretched hands of receiver Charles Johnson.
The incompletion didn’t discourage the many Manziel fans, who are confident he can make the Browns winners.
“I loved watching him play in college,” said Sam Wilson of North Canton, Ohio, who came to camp with his girlfriend, Savannah Meadows. “I think he’s kind of a football genius and I think he’ll turn it around. I have faith in him.”
Not everyone came out to see Manziel throw the ball.
“I just think he’s really cute,” Meadows said.