COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- For much of Texas A&M's first two weeks of camp, Kenny Hill carried himself like he was the Aggies' starting quarterback, with a confidence and bluster befitting the position. More importantly to A&M's fortunes, he also performed that way in practice, and on Saturday, Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin made the news official.
The sophomore Hill beat out freshman Kyle Allen for the right to succeed 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel as the No. 1 quarterback.
"We put a lot more emphasis on situational football in this camp," Sumlin said Saturday night following an A&M practice. "There wasn't really one determining factor -- it's more based on a body of work."On that front, Hill, the 2012 state Gatorade Player of the Year in high school and son of former major league pitcher Ken Hill, edged out Allen in overall experience. Hill played in four games last season behind Manziel, completing 16 of 22 passes and rushing for 37 yards on seven carries.
Allen, the nation's top-rated passer in this year's class, certainly made the competition interesting. Enough that Sumlin said he told Allen to keep preparing as he has during practice -- and away from practice.
"He's one snap away from playing, whether it's from subpar play in front of [him] or injury," Sumlin said. "[His] preparation can't slack off, and that competition will keep both guys getting better. He understands that."
Added Allen via a Twitter post late Saturday night: "Don't count me out yet."
The first scheduled start for Hill, who's considered a bit more mobile than Allen, is a doozy: at Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina on Aug. 28, in the first live contest on the new SEC Network. He played against only one SEC foe last season (Vanderbilt at Kyle Field), with his other appearances coming in nonconference contests against Sam Houston State, SMU and UTEP.
A&M has known only one starting quarterback as an SEC member the past two years: Manziel, who holds the league's top two single-season records for total offense, in guiding A&M to a 20-6 record in that span. But Manziel bypassed his final two seasons of college eligibility.
Since then, senior Matt Joeckel transferred to TCU, leaving Hill and Allen fighting for the job and walk-on Conner McQueen as the third-stringer.
Hill, who's 6-1 and 215 pounds, will try to lead A&M to its first conference title since 1998. As Sumlin said Saturday night, the best quarterback [so far] prevailed, and the other one better be ready to go at any time.
"Competition is a coach's best friend," Sumlin said. "Kyle needs to keep competing, and Kenny needs to keep competing, to stay where he is."