The starting quarterback for the Texas A&M football team will not be decided until August. Sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill will be able to overcome a minor offseason incident in order to compete for the starting job.
Hill will battle it out with true freshman Kyle Allen for the chance to replace Johnny Manziel in 2014. Manziel left some big shoes to fill after passing and rushing for 9,989 yards in two seasons and winning the 2012 Heisman Trophy.
If head coach Kevin Sumlin holds true to form, the competition will be decided about two weeks before the opening game on August 28. Sumlin waited until two weeks before the Aggies' season opener against Florida in 2012 to announce Manziel as the starter over Jameill Showers.
Sumlin has been a head coach for six seasons. During those six seasons, his starting quarterbacks have averaged 380 yards passing per game. Those expecting a huge drop-off in production from Manziel are going to be disappointed.
Sumlin knows how to put quarterbacks in a position to succeed. He will tweak his offense to take advantage of the strengths of each individual player. Whether that player will be Hill or Allen is yet to be determined.
The incident that everyone has been referring to, as detailed by The Eagle's Andrea Salazar, occurred a couple of days before the final scrimmage of the Aggies' spring practices. There is an area behind the bars in the Northgate bar district in College Station that has picnic tables and gazebos for people to congregate around.
Hill lay down on one of the decorative planters in that area and fell asleep. He was eventually awoken by the College Station police and arrested for public intoxication.
Hill was suspended for the remainder of spring practice for his indiscretions. An arrest that is comparable to a speeding ticket would typically not cause much of an uproar, but there have been multiple football players arrested since the end of the 2013 season, so the athletic department came down hard.
Hill was reinstated to the team a few weeks later. He will be able to participate in the team workouts and lead the voluntary seven-on-seven sessions during the summer.
According to Kate Hairopoulos of SportsDay DFW, Sumlin has indicated that the summer is one of the most important times for his quarterbacks. They develop their leadership skills during the summer sessions and take more of an ownership role in the team.
What Does Hill Bring?
Hill brings more experience to the quarterback position than Allen. Hill completed 16 of 22 pass attempts in 2013 for 183 yards and a touchdown.
A year of experience in the system is important since the Aggies will be starting the season on the road against South Carolina on August 28. Hill has played in SEC games before. He completed all five of his pass attempts for 43 yards and led a touchdown drive against Vanderbilt in 2013.
Hill is also a different type of quarterback than Allen. He offers more of a running option than Allen does. He is a thick-bodied type quarterback who resembles some of the old option quarterbacks at Nebraska like Scott Frost and Jamal Lord.
He offers Sumlin and offensive coordinator Jake Spavital the option of keeping a lot of the running plays they employed with Manziel in the offense. A running threat at quarterback is advantageous for the offense because it makes the defenders account for all 11 players on the field.
Allen is not a statue, but he is not as mobile as Hill. With Allen, you will run the zone-read four or five times a game in order to keep a defense honest. With Hill, you can run it 20 times per game and have it be a major part of your offense.
Hill's legs can carry an offense to the win. That is not the case with Allen. That is something to keep in mind when you have three experienced running backs in Trey Williams, Tra Carson and Brandon Williams on the roster. The Aggies could conceivably win a football game with their running game alone behind those running backs and Hill's ability to run the ball.
Hill and Allen both have strong arms. The difference is that Hill has already shown the ability to take a snap in a college game, read the defense and deliver the football to the right place. Allen has not shown that ability yet.
Hill has overcome the blip on the radar that was his arrest for public intoxication. Whether or not he wins the starting quarterback job in 2014 will be determined solely by how he and Allen perform on the field between now and August 28.
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