TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) – Johnny Manziel is ready to hand off his nickname. Or at least share it.
After Texas A&M sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill shredded No. 9 South Carolina for 511 yards passing on Thursday, breaking Manziel’s single-game school record, the Cleveland Browns’ rookie QB acknowledged that his replacement in College Station had more than earned some respect and attention.
Manziel posted “KENNY FOOTBALL” on his Twitter account and later gave Hill a shout out during his news conference, saying, “Kenny Football, baby! Let’s go!”
For any Texas A&M fans worried about how the Aggies would replace Manziel – the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy – Hill put them at ease. He completed 44 of 60 pass attempts with three touchdowns in his first collegiate start.
Manziel, who threw a TD pass and showed some of his typical flashiness in Cleveland’s 33-13 exhibition win over Chicago, was asked if he could give up his “Football” nickname so easily.
“Hey,” he said. “You throw for 511 yards …”
Hill, though, would prefer making his own name.
“I don’t really like ‘Kenny Football,'” he said after upsetting the Gamecocks. Some fans and media had started calling him by his high school nickname, “King of the Hill,” which he said he preferred.
Johnny Football, meanwhile, made more progress in his fourth preseason game as a pro. Manziel threw a 1-yard TD pass, ran for 55 yards – 22 coming on one run – and had a few of those head-scratching plays he seems to have patented.
Manziel’s passing statistics were poor – 6 of 17 for 83 yards and a 71.4 rating – and he threw a couple of passes that wobbled their way toward their intended targets.
“I don’t think I threw the ball particularly well,” Manziel said. “I felt it came out of my hand a little funny with those first few throws and as the drives went on I felt like I threw it better. You have days like that where the ball feels a little different in your hand. I wish that I had some throws back, but I feel like I went to the right place a few times and I think I just needed to man-up and make the throw in order to give them a better ball. I was definitely a little upset on the field.”
Manziel kept his celebrating to a minimum. He didn’t flash the “money” gesture after his scoring pass to tight end Jim Dray. He did show some frustration when his first pass, a long throw to Gary Barnidge hit the tight end between the 8 and 2 on his jersey and fell incomplete.
Manziel knows drops happen, and he’s not afraid to point out his own failures.
“There’s times where I miss a throw and I’m sure the receiver’s looking at me wondering the same thing, ‘What the hell is he doing back there?'” Manziel said. “I know those guys are out there busting their tail for me. Accidents happen. If somebody drops one, you’ve got to pick them up and move on to the next play.”
Manziel kept a couple plays alive with his feet. He danced around in the pocket, sidestepping Bears defensive linemen before hitting Nate Burleson for a 27-yard gain.
It was vintage Manziel: electrifying for fans, terrifying for a coach.
Mike Pettine’s getting used to it.
“That’s who he is,” Cleveland’s first-year coach said. “Somebody said on the sideline, ‘There’s Johnny being Johnny.’ There was one play where it was no, no, no, yes, yes, yes that was just typical of his playmaking ability.”
Manziel’s performance came on the same day he took on a new persona: “Johnny Jamboogie.”
He’s featured in a TV commercial for Snickers in which Manziel, dressed in spandex tights and headband, is an aerobics instructor teaching a class of women. Manziel said he enjoyed making the spot.
“I was a little out of my comfort zone at the beginning,” Manziel said. “It was no Joe Pesci.