Texas A&M Football: Remembering Kevin Sumlin as a Player

Jim SullivanSenior Writer IIApril 11, 2017

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 10:  Head coach Kevin Sumlin of the Texas A&M Aggies watches the action on the field during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Over the course of the past two seasons, Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has garnered significant attention for his efforts coaching the Aggies to a 19-6 (10-6 SEC) record and back-to-back top-tier bowl games. This postseason, A&M will visit Atlanta, Ga., on Dec. 31 for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, traveling to the Georgia Dome for the first time in school history for a matchup against ACC runner-up Duke. 

However, for Sumlin, the game will mark a homecoming of sorts, as the head coach returns to the very location of his 1985 Peach Bowl as starting linebacker for Purdue. 

Despite the Boilermakers' 27-24 shortcoming to Virginia in Atlanta to close the season, the year marked a significant landmark for Purdue, as the program defeated rivals Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame for the first time all in the same season. 

COLLEGE STATION, TX - APRIL 13:  Head coach Kevin Sumlin of the Texas A&M Aggies chats with his quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 before the Maroon & White spring football game at Kyle Field on April 13, 2013 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Haller
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

"[The Peach Bowl] was a great moment for me, as a player," Sumlin said. "We had a pretty good team. We beat Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame for the first time [all in the same year]. I had a great experience there and I can't wait to come back. It's been a great bowl game. I'm looking forward to it."

Sumlin exceeded expectations during his time with Purdue from 1983-1986 and currently ranks No. 7 on Purdue's list of all-time tackle leaders with 375 (191 solo, 184 assisted). The Alabama native amassed a strong portion of those tackles during his All-Big Ten 1984 and 1986 seasons, combining for 223 tackles, and ranked fifth league-wide statistically his senior year. 

As a walk-on in 1983, Sumlin proceeded to earn his position on the squad, leading the group in tackles (91) while garnering the Sports Illustrated All-America Walk-on award. Sumlin also finished his career with six interceptions. 

Sumlin's success at Purdue led to multiple assistant positions following graduation at Washington State, Minnesota, Wyoming and his alma-mater, not to mention a short tenure at A&M under R.C. Slocum. 

As the Aggies' head coach returns to Atlanta for the first time since his Peach Bowl appearance almost three decades ago, A&M will be tested with an unprecedented Duke squad looking to reach 11 wins for the first time in school history.

All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.