What Life After Johnny Manziel Will Be Like for Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJanuary 8, 2014

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So long, Johnny.

What was a longtime assumption became a reality on Wednesday when Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel announced that he is forgoing his redshirt junior and senior seasons at Texas A&M and will enter the 2014 NFL draft.

The Kerrville, Texas, native posted an open letter thanking the fans on TexAgs.com.

I cannot begin to tell you what the support of the school, my teammates, Coach [Kevin] Sumlin, Chancellor [John] Sharp and the fans has meant to me over the last two years. The Heisman Trophy belongs as much to you as it does to me.

So what does this mean for Texas A&M moving forward?

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin.
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin.Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

Manziel was the trigger man of an Aggie unit that led the SEC in total offense in each of his first two seasons at the helm—which were head coach Kevin Sumlin's first in College Station as well.

Sumlin came to the program with a reputation for leading high-flying offenses at Houston, particularly through the air with quarterback Case Keenum.

At Texas A&M, however, things have been different.

Manziel's dual-threat ability has allowed Sumlin to implement more designed runs and read-option looks in the offense, which kicked an already potent offense into overdrive.

The player everybody in Aggieland is excited about is incoming freshman Kyle Allen. 

The 6'2", 185-pound, pro-style quarterback from Scottsdale, Ariz., is the 15th-ranked player in the country in 247Sports.com's composite rankings. He is the kind of player who can be a difference-maker for a program. According to his 247Sports timeline, he signed a financial-aid agreement with the university and intends to enroll this month.

Allen possesses the accuracy and awareness to be a weapon in Sumlin's offense, and has the arm strength to stretch the field. That's great for Sumlin 1.0, but that's not what Texas A&M has come to expect.

Having a true dual-threat quarterback that can do those things on top of posing a threat with his legs is what really makes this offense tick and there's already a signal-caller on the roster who fits that description.

Kenny Hill.

Sep 7, 2013; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Kenny Hill (7) throws a touchdown pass during the third quarter against the Sam Houston State Bearkats at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The 6'1", 215-pound rising sophomore played in four games as a true freshman and completed 16 of 22 passes for 183 yards and one touchdown. He also carried the ball seven times for 37 yards. 

Texas A&M QB Kenny Hill.
Texas A&M QB Kenny Hill.Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Should the Aggies really want Allen—a true freshman—making his first career start on the road in Columbia, S.C., versus the Gamecocks on opening night?

That's a lot to ask.

Hill needs to win the job this spring. If Sumlin is unwilling to name a starter because he wants more information in the fall, Hill must at least have the consensus lead on Allen and the rest of the pack heading into camp.

With a defense that gives up yards and points in bunches, the Aggies need a dynamic difference-maker at quarterback. While that defense can improve in the offseason, there's no margin for error with an SEC game in Week 1.

If Hill wins the job, it allows Sumlin to possibly redshirt Allen and create two years of separation between potential starting quarterbacks.

The offense won't change that much with Hill and his marginal experience in game action will benefit this team not only in Week 1, but throughout the season.

Allen may have the most upside, but if he becomes the starter, Sumlin and the rest of the roster would have to adapt to an offense that looks more like what Keenum ran at Houston.

That's not to say that it wouldn't be successful. With Sumlin calling the shots, it absolutely would be. However, the speed bumps would be bigger and the transition would be more pronounced.

Deciding whether it's worth it is Sumlin's most important decision of the offseason.


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