Texas A&M Aggies: Conner McQueen

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin has overseen a few quarterback competitions in his head coaching career and is doing so again this season. Going into the spring, the Aggies had three players vying for the starting quarterback job. That number is down to two now after senior Matt Joeckel transferred to TCU earlier this month.

The candidates left standing are young, but promising, prospects: sophomore Kenny Hill and true freshman Kyle Allen. On Wednesday Sumlin discussed how the number of repetitions and outlook has changed -- if at all -- with the competition narrowed to just two players.

"I don't know that it changes the dynamic very much," Sumlin said. "Yeah, they're going to get more turns at this point … just from a sheer numbers standpoint you're going to raise the number of reps [for Allen and Hill] but you also have to be careful that the number of reps is not too high because those guys still have young arms and aren't used to throwing that many balls.

"So we'll keep track of that and work them through this summer with reps and try to increase their strength but also their knowledge so that when we get to fall that they'll both have an opportunity to compete to see who's going to run out on that field the first snap against South Carolina."

Hill has the benefit of game experience, having played in a backup role last season as a true freshman. Allen, the nation's No. 1-ranked pocket passer in the 2014 recruiting class, had to learn quickly after enrolling in January. The Aggies threw the playbook at the young prospect out of Scottsdale, Ariz., but he handled it well.

"I think that with the [offensive] installation we were able to move along a little bit quicker with him [Allen] than we have in the past," Sumlin said. "We changed some things in how we did things from a meeting schedule standpoint early this spring and really were able to get quite a bit of the installation in and meeting with players before we actually started the practice process because of the number of guys offensively and defensively that are going to have to play for us. I think he's handled it. The thing now is he's got the tools, he's got the basis of the offense, he's got the progressions and what we expect out of him."

The summer will be important for both quarterbacks as they are tabbed with leading summer workouts.

"I said before, the summertime is a great time for our quarterbacks to continue to improve, to continue to lead because they run the 7-on-7s, they run the offseason program and we've had success doing it that way," Sumlin said. "With the new rule and with us being able to meet with the players too [in the summer], I think that's going to accelerate a lot of young players' growth through the summer. I think both of those young guys, both Kenny Hill and Kyle Allen, are going to continue to compete through two-a-day practices."
It would be easy to assume that 15 spring football practices would bring some clarity to the Texas A&M quarterback race.

Instead, there were seemingly as many questions coming out of spring as there were when it began.

The arrest and subsequent suspension of sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill, one of three Aggies who entered spring competing for the right to succeed Johnny Manziel, complicated matters in the final week of spring practice as senior Matt Joeckel and true freshman Kyle Allen spent the final week of spring drills splitting reps.

The announcement Wednesday of Joeckel's decision to transfer cleared things up somewhat, but it's still a marathon until the Aggies pick a starter.

Hill, who was suspended on March 28 following an arrest for public intoxication, has since been reinstated to the team and will have to stay out of trouble moving forward. He has experience on his side, having appeared in five games last season and having plenty of experience in a no-huddle, up-tempo spread-style offense like the Aggies run.

Allen, who went through customary true freshman growing pains in the early portions of spring practice while working to grasp the offense, came along nicely toward the end of spring drills, throwing a quality deep ball and handling the entire menu of plays that offensive coordinator Jake Spavital threw at him.

Joeckel's departure thins out the quarterback depth, leaving the Aggies with just two scholarship players at the position (look for walk-on Conner McQueen to be the third-string quarterback). Joeckel was still in the race when he made his decision, and the Aggies would have liked to have his veteran presence around, but he clearly felt his chance to start in 2014 was better somewhere else than Aggieland. And keep in mind, the Aggies continue to look for a quarterback in the 2015 recruiting class, with the focus currently set on ESPN 300 prospect and two-time Texas Class 5A Division I state champion Kyler Murray, son of former Aggies quarterback Kevin Murray.

With Joeckel out, it's a two-man race between Allen and Hill until mid-August, but it's too early to call a winner just yet. That's not the way A&M coach Kevin Sumlin works. He prefers to wait until approximately two weeks before the season opener before calling the quarterback competition, something he stayed true to in 2008 (his first year at Houston) and in 2012 (his first year at Texas A&M).

So Hill and Allen will continue to battle it out this summer and when preseason training camp begins in late July or early August. Speculation will run rampant as it did in 2012 (when many observers felt Jameill Showers led Manziel coming out of spring ball, though Manziel ultimately won the job), but the bottom line is we won't truly know who's trotting out into the offensive huddle first on Aug. 28 against South Carolina until Sumlin says so in about four months.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Throughout their successful 2012 season, the buzz around Texas A&M football built each week. It crescendoed after the Aggies defeated Alabama and peaked when the Aggies' quarterback, Johnny Manziel, won the Heisman Trophy. They kept that buzz going with a resounding win over Oklahoma in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.

That buzz has had a clear affect on Texas A&M recruiting and Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies' staff is doing what they can to ensure the buzz continues. In some instances, it's tricks or tactics that the Aggies use themselves, like when they trotted out a live disc jockey for the "Friday Night Lights" scrimmage last week.

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