Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel said Wednesday during an interview with ESPN that he left the Manning Passing Academy after missing morning meetings when he overslept because his phone had died.
The Texas A&M quarterback was speaking at SEC Media Days after days of speculation about his abrupt departure from the camp. He denied being hungover - "absolutely not" - in response to a rumor that has worked its way through the media. Camp officials had already denied the rumors that Manziel was asked to leave for partying too much during the camp. Manziel's father had told The Dallas Morning News that his son was "dehydrated," though few seemed to believe the story at the time.
Manziel, the first freshman to win college football's most prestigious award, has seen his personal life inspected by fans and the media this offseason. When photos of him appear online - chatting with LeBron James before a Heat game, say, or going out with friends on a weekend - he's hit with criticism for not caring enough about the game. He talked Wednesday about living under the intense spotlight.
"I feel like Justin Bieber or something," he said. "The spotlight is 10 times brighter and 10 times hotter than I thought it was two months ago."
"I'm 20 years old. I'm still a sophomore in college. I'm still gonna do things that everybody in college does."
Some of the criticism is self-inflicted. As Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said, "Off the field, there's no question he's made mistakes." Those mistakes include failing to properly identify himself to police after a fight last summer. Manziel pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor on Monday.
"I've made mistakes," Manziel said. "I try not to make the same one twice. I'm ready to do my talking on the field."
Manziel said he didn't expect the attention he's received - "absolutely not" - but he should have expected the criticism. "At times this offseason, it was unfortunate," he said. "I should have known better, being in the position I'm in."