The Texas A&M football team still does not know who will line up under center when the Aggies take the field on August 28 against South Carolina. There is a quarterback competition taking place, and it will continue into fall practice.
Johnny Manziel's decision to leave Texas A&M after his sophomore season and move on to the NFL has left the Aggies with youth and inexperience on the depth chart. Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has proved before that he can produce a prolific offense with young quarterbacks.
The Aggies have been recruiting well at the position, and there is talent in the pipeline. Texas A&M fans are going to have to hope that talent can develop quickly so they can put a quality offense on the field in 2014.
If the young quarterbacks on the roster are able to develop and stay healthy, then the Aggies will be able to compete for the SEC title in 2014. If they have multiple injuries at the position, then the Aggies will struggle to qualify for a bowl game.
Kyle Allen is a true freshman quarterback from Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. The 6'3", 200-pound gunslinger was the top-rated recruit in the country in 2014 according to 247Sports.com.
Allen passed for 2,535 yards and 29 touchdowns with 10 interceptions as a high school senior in 2013. He passed for 3,119 yards with 36 touchdowns as a junior. He has a strong arm and is very accurate inside the pocket and on the run.
Allen was able to enroll at A&M early and participated in offseason conditioning and spring practices. He ended spring practice listed atop the depth chart at the quarterback position.
Sumlin has started a true freshman quarterback before. In 2010, the first- and second-string quarterbacks for the University of Houston were injured in a game against UCLA. The Cougars were forced to finish the season with true freshman David Piland as their starting quarterback.
Piland started eight games for the Cougars and averaged 330.1 yards passing per game. He threw 24 touchdown passes against 14 interceptions.
The increased access granted to coaches during the summer should really expedite Allen's development. The NCAA's new rule means that Sumlin and his staff can observe Allen throughout the summer and basically give him an extra three months of instruction.
This new rule will decrease the experience gap between incoming freshmen and redshirt freshmen and sophomores in college football. There will not be as much of a shock to the system when practices and meetings start in August, and the freshmen should already have a solid understanding of the playbook when fall practice begins.
The Aggies begin the 2014 season on the road at South Carolina. You never know how a freshman is going to react in his first collegiate game, much less on a national stage in an unfriendly environment. Aggies fans are going to have to hope that Allen is able to keep his cool and simply execute Sumlin's offense.
Kenny Hill is a 6'2", 210-pound sophomore quarterback at Texas A&M. He saw action in four games, completing 72.7 percent of his passes with a touchdown and no interceptions.
Hill is a dual-threat quarterback who offers the Aggies more of a running threat than Allen does. If Sumlin and offensive coordinator Jake Spavital decide they want to keep a lot of the running components that Manziel added to the offense in place, then that would bode well for Hill.
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Hill and Allen were neck and neck in the competition for the starting quarterback spot until Hill ran into some off-the-field trouble and was suspended for the remainder of spring practice. He passed out in a bar district in College Station and was arrested for public intoxication.
Hill was a 4-star recruit and the No. 8 ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2013 recruiting class according to 247Sports.com. He led his Southlake Carroll High School team to the 2011 Texas 5A state title as a junior.
Hill split the second-team snaps in games with Matt Joeckel in 2013. Joeckel has since transferred to TCU to complete his career.
If Allen is the starter to begin the year as expected, then Hill will make a very capable backup. He has a year of experience in the system under his belt and has played in front of large crowds before.
Hill's ability to make plays with his feet cannot be discounted. Entering a season in which the Aggies do not know what to expect from their defense, the ability to extend drives and win the time-of-possession battle cannot be overlooked.
Hill has already proved that he can take the offense down the field and score a touchdown. He will be a very capable backup for the Aggies in 2014.
All the Rest
The Aggies enter the 2014 season with only two scholarship quarterbacks on their roster. There are three walk-on quarterbacks on the roster in Conner McQueen, Kobe Miller and Jordan Traylor.
Miller and Traylor are true freshmen who are just beginning to learn the system. McQueen is a 5'10", 175-pound sophomore from Klein, Texas, who earned a letter in 2013.
If Allen and Hill go down, then McQueen is the most likely candidate to go under center. The coaches would also likely consider converting one of their position players back to quarterback.
Senior receiver Malcome Kennedy led Cayuga High School to the Texas 1A state title as the quarterback in 2009. He would get a look under center as well as 6'5", 230-pound redshirt freshman receiver Ricky Seals-Jones.
Seals-Jones played quarterback during his injury-shortened senior season at Sealy High School in 2012. He is a tremendous athlete who has a decent arm and the ability to make people miss in open space.
If Allen and Hill go down, you would likely see the Aggies resort to a variation of the zone-read offense that emphasized their running backs. The season would turn into a fight for survival and a bowl game.