KERRVILLE, Texas — Johnny Manziel is making headlines for his actions off the field again. On Thursday, he made his first court appearance following his indictment for domestic violence.
His former head coach in Kerrville, Mark Smith, says he tries to reach out to his former star player at least once a month. In light of all that’s happened, he just wants Manziel to know he has his full support.
“I really don’t know that guy. I think they’re two different people,” Smith said as he tried to explain Manziel’s actions that have gotten him in trouble. “Somehow I wish Johnny could find himself back to being Johnny Manziel.”
Smith wants to see Manziel return to being the leader and role model he remembers while coaching him in high school in Kerrville.
“I think everybody saw what kind of player he was. He’s a great player,” Smith said. “The things I know about Johnny, I mean, he was a great kid. He had a caring heart, always tried to put his teammates before himself. Was great with kids, particularly special needs kids. He went out of his way to work with the younger youth in the Kerrville area.”
Manziel’s promising career quickly spiraled out of control. The former Texas A&M star was cut from the Cleveland Browns on March 11 as his behavior off the field hit the spotlight.
“’Your actions speak so loud I can’t hear a word you’re saying.’ That was something we shared with our kids a lot in Kerrville,” Smith recalled. “And that’s one of the things I talked with him when he was in rehab. Right now, his actions are a little bit different than what he said he was going to do.”
Now, Manziel faces a misdemeanor assault charge as he’s accused of hitting his ex-girlfriend and threatening to kill her back in January. On Thursday, a Dallas judge ordered him to have no contact with her and banned him from possessing any firearms. Manziel faces up to a year in jail for the assault charge. He plead not guilty.
“I get kind of emotional about it because he’s very close to me. He’s really a great kid. And it’s a shame that he’s been categorized like he his. But he’s brought that on himself,” Smith said. “We’re always going to be there for him. We’ll continue to love him just like I love the people in my family.”