Friday, January 24, 2014
TAMU to-do list: Pick a QB
By Sam Khan Jr.
Editor's note: This is the fourth part of a weeklong series looking at the five most pressing concerns Texas A&M faces this offseason.
Texas A&M has had good fortune at the quarterback position in recent years but perhaps more so than ever in the last two, with Johnny Manziel.
After two fast, furious seasons, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner has a long list of accomplishments and left a lasting imprint on the program. Needless to say, the shoes he's leaving to fill are enormous.
Matt Joeckel started the 2013 season opener against Rice and passed for 190 yards and a touchdown.
But the Aggies aren't hurting for quarterback talent in the pipeline. The task now is simply figuring out who the best choice is to lead Texas A&M into the post-Manziel era, the next item on our Texas A&M offseason to-do list.
Earlier this month, we took a look at the primary candidates who will compete for the starting quarterback job. They are as follows: senior Matt Joeckel, sophomore Kenny Hill and freshman Kyle Allen.
If Kevin Sumlin's history is any indicator, don't expect to have a starting quarterback named after spring football. It's likely that the Aggies enter fall camp without officially naming the starting quarterback. The last two times that Sumlin has overseen a preseason quarterback competition, he has waited until about two weeks before the first game before naming his guy. In 2008 at Houston, it was Case Keenum who won a battle over Blake Joseph.
In 2012, Sumlin's first season in Aggieland, it was Manziel, a redshirt freshman, who beat out a sophomore in Jameill Showers, even though many observers speculated that Showers did enough in the spring to be the starter. Sumlin's patience paid off as Manziel went on to become the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.
Joeckel has the most experience of the group since he has already participated in two springs and seen at least some playing time in each of the last two seasons. Hill, who arrived last fall from Texas high school power Southlake Carroll, made a push for the chance to start the season opener against Rice, which Manziel missed because of a suspension, and though Joeckel got the start, Hill did enough to warrant playing time as a backup during the season.
Both have the advantage of having spent plenty of time working with the coaching staff and quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital, who will be the offensive coordinator in 2014.
Allen is the wild card of the group. A freshman who is ranked as the No. 1 pocket-passing quarterback in the country and the No. 35 player overall in the ESPN 300, he has already enrolled in classes and will participate in spring football. He'll have time to try to make up ground on Hill and Joeckel.
Sumlin has always been a coach who believes the "best players play" regardless of classification, even if the best player is a true freshman. So while Allen has a lot to learn, he will by no means be eliminated by default.
Whoever it winds up being, it is a critical decision for the Aggies. The success of the next starting quarterback will go a long way in dictating how the Aggies fare in 2014 and beyond, should the starter this year be the "long-term" answer at the position. Nobody is expecting Manziel's successor to match his feats, but there is plenty of optimism with the talent on the roster.