Replacing Manziel: Allen, Hill continue to battle for Aggies' QB job
It’s always an annual challenge trying to replace an impact player, but in the SEC, coaches are paid to recruit and develop the next standout athlete in fear of the impending hot seat should seasons turn sour.
Over a two-week period, we’ll take a look at a key player loss for each program in the conference and break down that position’s potential replacements. Rest assured, a few of these guys will be household names by season’s end.
- SOUTH CAROLINA
- OLE MISS
- TODAY: Texas A&M
- Tuesday: Vanderbilt
- Wednesday: Alabama
- Thursday: Florida
- Friday: Missouri
- Aug. 16: Mississippi St.
- Aug. 17: Tennessee
- Aug. 18: LSU
Kevin Sumlin paused, gave a sarcastic grin, then answered swiftly.
He made it known quickly at SEC Media Days that this year’s Aggies have nothing to do with Johnny Manziel, his Heisman-winning quarterback who was picked in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.
It’s a new year, new players and a new team.
“You know, really great NFL teams and organizations have a core group of players that they keep, then a satellite group that kind of bounces in and out and they keep winning,” Sumlin said. “The difference is, in college football every two, three years you’re going to have turnover, and you have to have a plan for that. Whether it’s quarterback, whether it’s a great defender, whatever it is. To me that’s what’s exciting about college football.
“You wouldn’t be so excited if you hadn’t recruited the Gatorade Player of the Year out of the state of Texas at quarterback and the number one quarterback in the country behind him.”
True freshman Kyle Allen and sophomore Kenny Hill are the two passers in the running to replace Texas A&M’s total offense juggernaut, each with their own unique skill set.
Both have shown a clear understanding of the offense during fall practice and performed at expectations according to reports and what’s been said by the Texas A&M coaching staff. Before the start of camp, Sumlin’s goal was to have a starter in mind by Aug. 16 which would give the top guy 11 days to prepare for South Carolina in the opener.
After Saturday’s closed scrimmage, he didn’t say much as to who was leading the race.
“Both quarterbacks operated very well today,” Sumlin said
Pushed further to go into more detail, Sumlin didn’t budge.
“Dead even,” he said.
Texas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said the lack of live situations for both quarterbacks has made it difficult to properly evaluate the position. The coaching staff will know over the next few days after judging Allen and Hill in game-like scenarios who has the upper hand.
“I want to see these guys make some plays and I want to see the offense start clicking,” Spavital said on the eve of the Aggies’ first scrimmage. “I want to see the one who is going to get those first downs that lead into touchdowns. This offense is really heavy off of rhythm … and I want to see them put us in the best position to succeed.”
He may not get the reps, but three-year vet and third-teamer Conner McQueen has played a vital role this fall in helping both quarterbacks with what they may see against multiple defenses. Spavital praised McQueen’s willingness to understand his role and embrace it.
“(Conner) knows (the offense) better than anybody and he’s very good when I’m off calling the plays with the offense talk to the other quarterbacks and what he’s seeing,” Spavital said.