While it’s true that being the “next Johnny Manziel” is not the same as simply being the guy who replaces Manziel in Texas A&M’s lineup, but someone will indeed emerge as the next Aggies starting quarterback.
The first round of elimination came in April, after spring practice, when Matt Joeckel decided to transfer to TCU. He graduated from A&M and will have one season to play for the Horned Frogs. That move left sophomore Kenny Hill and freshman Kyle Allen in the running to take the mantle from Manziel.
Allen (6-3, 205) was a five-star recruit who signed in February, enrolled early and took part in spring practice. Hill (6-1, 215) was a four-star recruit in 2013 and played in four games for the Aggies last season. They competed in the spring, though Hill’s time was cut short when he was suspended in late March after he was arrested and charged with public intoxication. As with most offseason suspensions, it likely will end in time for preseason camp.
Manziel won a Heisman Trophy and became a legendary Aggie in his two seasons in College Station (an A&M regent suggested officially naming Kyle Field “The House that Johnny Built”), but he never came close to winning a championship. Alabama, Auburn and LSU got in the way. The Aggies were 10-6 in SEC games the past two seasons (with fourth-place and third-place finishes in the SEC West), 19-6 overall.
The next Aggies quarterback will aim for similar success, and he gets a tough test out of the gate, facing South Carolina on Thursday, Aug. 28 in the first game at the renovated and expanded Kyle Field (with a seating capacity of more than 102,000) and the first game on the SEC Network. Also, he’ll do so without star wide receiver Mike Evans, who like Manziel was a first-round pick in this year’s NFL draft.
The loser of the Hill-Allen competition could find himself facing a short stay in Aggieland. Kyler Murray, a five-star recruit from Allen, Texas, committed to the Aggies recently and expects to sign in February. If Hill or Allen falls far behind the other, he could move on to a better opportunity, with Murray looming in the future.
From Hill’s bio on the A&M website:
“Earned playing time in four contests at quarterback as a true freshman … Saw action against Sam Houston State (Sept. 7), SMU (Sept. 21), Vanderbilt (Oct. 26) and UTEP (Nov. 2) … Completed 16 passes in 22 attempts … Added seven rushes for 37 yards on the year … Amassed 183 yards passing, including a pair of 38-yard throws against (Sam Houston State) and UTEP … Threw a 14-yard touchdown pass, the first of his career, against the Bearkats.”
From Allen’s bio:
“Strong-armed quarterback with excellent mobility and pocket awareness … Rated the No. 1 QB prospect in the country … Threw for more than 8,000 yards and 86 touchdowns in high school … Enrolled at Texas A&M in January and will go through spring drills with the Aggies … chose A&M over Alabama, UCLA, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State and Arizona State, among others.”