KERRVILLE -- Texas A&M fans everywhere whooped it up Saturday night after Johnny Manziel was named the winner of the 78th Heisman Trophy in a nationally televised ceremony.
But none of the cheering was louder than it was in the Hill Country town where "Johnny Football" began his rise to stardom.
When Manziel was awarded college football's most prestigious individual award in New York, the crowd at one of Kerrville's most popular restaurants celebrated like it was New Year's Eve.
"It's very exciting," said Faylon Castillo, a 2006 Kerrville Tivy graduate. "That's all everybody in town has been talking about, Johnny Manziel."
Located about two miles west of Interstate 10 on Sidney Baker Road, the Wing King was the place to be for fans who watched Manziel star at Tivy before he went on to A&M.
They gathered in groups near the four TVs in the restaurant, watching the ceremony intently and cheering every time Manziel was shown on camera before the announcement.
"This was awesome tonight," said Pam Hubenak, a 49-year-old Kerrville native. "It brought Kerrville together. The buzz around town has been crazy. To be honest with you, I was a (Texas) Longhorn fan, but now I've changed because of Manziel."
It was just two years ago that Manziel earned Parade All-America honors after a stellar senior season. He passed for 3,609 yards and 45 touchdowns and ran for 1,674 yards and 30 TDs. Intercepted only five times, Manziel completed 228 of 347 passes and averaged 9.85 yards per carry.
Manziel's parents no longer live in Kerrville
Manziel graduated in December 2010 and enrolled at A&M a month later.
Redshirted as a freshman, Manziel became the Aggies' starting quarterback this season and captured the imagination of the country with his big-play ability. Tivy fans say Manziel is simply doing now what he did every Friday night when he was in high school.
Stephen Lynch and his wife, Jan, are good friends with Paul and Michelle Manziel, the quarterback's parents.
"The Manziels took my wife and I to one of Tivy's football games and we were sold on Johnny," said Stephen Lynch, 55. "I'm really happy for Johnny and his family. He's a real good representative of Kerrville. It's been a whirlwind thing for him and it's been exciting thing for Kerrville."
Manziel's fans figured it was only fitting to watch Saturday night's Heisman show at the Wing King, where Manziel and his family were frequent patrons during his high school days. Although Paul and Michelle Manziel moved to College Station to be closer to their son after he enrolled at A&M, they have maintained ties with friends in Kerrville.
"Having a Heisman Trophy winner from a small town like this is really exciting for us," said Lee Howard, owner of the Wing King. "For us, personally, knowing Johnny and his family real well has been great. They came in for dinner after every home game when he played at Tivy. It used to be real exciting watching him play high school ball here.
"Kerrville is a small town and when something like this happens, everybody can gravitate toward something like this. What I really like about Johnny is that he's still humble. He still mentions Kerrville whenever he talks to reporters. For us, that's real important because this is where he made his bones. This is where he got his start."
Lee, a 1984 A&M graduate, was in the crowd at Kyle Field two weeks ago when the Aggies defeated Missouri in their regular-season finale.
"I'm looking forward to when he come back and we have a homecoming parade for him," Lee said.
Kerrville about 60 miles northwest of San Antonio
More A&M caps and T-shirts have been seen in Kerrville since Manziel took his bountiful talents to Aggieland.
"To know he played at my high school is an amazing feeling and gives me a tremendous sense of pride," said Ryan Taylor, a 1997 Tivy graduate who earned his degree at A&M in 2001. "It's been so exciting to watch. It was pretty emotional for me when I heard his name announced tonight."
Manziel was born in the East Texas town of Tyler, but moved to Kerrville with his family when he was in the seventh grade. Kerrville, which has a population of approximately 23,000, is located about 60 miles northwest of San Antonio.
"I started watching Johnny play football when he was a sophomore in high school, and he did some amazing things," said Darrell Strange, 44, who has lived in Kerrville for 22 years. "He did the same thing then that he did this season. He made some acrobatic throws and never gave up on a play."
Susan Hamilton, a 47-year-old elementary school teacher, said Manziel's magical season has galvanized the Kerrville community.
"Good friends of mine who are (Texas) Longhorns have been pulling for Johnny," Hamilton said. "It's been fun. It doesn't matter what school he was playing for. It was just that he was from here."
Joey Lopez, 41, clapped enthusiastically and raised his arms after Manziel was announced as this season's Heisman winner.
"I had to be here tonight because I knew the community was going to be cheering him on," said Lopez, a 1990 Tivy graduate. "It was just a big event."
Erica Vela, 33, also felt compelled to watch the Heisman show at the Wing King.
"I don't know him but I've seen him play, and he's awesome," said Vela, a 1998 Tivy graduate. "I felt the energy here tonight. It was fun."