- Travis Haney, ESPN Staff Writer
Quarterback battles do not always resolve themselves in the spring -- in fact, it’s somewhat rare -- but this cycle provided some news and emerging figures from notable programs across the country.
In the space of three weeks at A&M recently, Hill, a sophomore, had been suspended for a minor arrest, and veteran Matt Joeckel let his coaches know that he intended to transfer. Hill will eventually be reinstated, but for now that leaves Allen, a freshman, as the only true eligible option to replace Manziel.
Jake Spavital, approaching his first full season as the Aggies’ playcaller, tells me that the message for the two young quarterbacks is very different. And it remains to be seen how each receives that summer counsel and where Allen and Hill land by preseason camp in August.
For Allen, now four months into his time in college, it’s clearly a matter of education. But the staff saw enough mental and physical aptitude to know Allen is a legitimate candidate to start from day one.
“He came pretty far [during the spring],” Spavital told me Monday. “I’m telling you, he’s very mature for being 18 years old. I threw the entire offense at him. . . . We threw him in and tried to see how he learns.”
For Hill -- suspended for allegedly passing out in a flower bed outside a bar in College Station -- it’s a matter of growing up.
“Kenny’s been through it all,” Spavital said. “He’s just got to mature and be a leader. He has the tools to do it, but he has to show to the entire team that he can do it.”
Unlike Allen, Hill does at least have some experience. He played in four games last season, completing 16 of 22 passes for 183 yards and a score. Only one of the games featured an SEC opponent (Vanderbilt), and all of his snaps came in blowouts.
Still, it’s something. And Spavital said Hill has shown strides in terms of comprehension.
“He knows how to operate the whole entire [offense],” he said. “He knows what’s right and wrong. He doesn’t make as many rookie mistakes as Kyle.
“It comes down to a leadership standpoint with Kenny. Is he capable of leading the team?”