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Two years ago, observers thought Texas A&M had their replacement for Ryan Tannehill set after spring practice, anointing Jameill Showers as the next leader of the Aggie offense.
Of course, that didn't happen. Johnny Manziel took the starting job and promptly won the Heisman Trophy.
Kevin Sumlin will be very quick to remind you of that if you try to draw early conclusions in the latest quarterback derby.
In spite of that, there are a few things that are starting to become a little more clear in one of the most closely-watched competitions anywhere in college football, largely due to the suspension of Kenny Hill late last week. While Hill is not out of the race, he's on the sidelines while veteran Matt Joeckel and true freshman Kyle Allen take all the snaps for the rest of the spring and possibly into the summer.
Here's a look at each player, based on what we've seen to date:
The veteran: Redshirt senior Matt Joeckel
2013 stats: 22-37, 293 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT in 5 games (1 start)
Strengths: Size (6-feet-4, 240 pounds); knowledge of the offense; playing experience
Weaknesses: Inconsistency; not very mobile; limited arm strength
Overview: Joeckel has taken first team snaps when the media has been around, but the offense hasn't moved much. That's not saying a whole lot; it hasn't moved much with anyone in the three seasons we've had access, and that includes with Manziel. In his lone start against Rice, Joeckel was highly efficient; in relief of Manziel, however, he wasn't as good. He's up and down, looking great one day and missing with his passes the next. If he becomes more consistent, he can certainly operate the offense effectively.
The newcomer: true freshman Kyle Allen
2013 Stats: 186-272, 2,535 yards, 29 TD, 10 INT at Desert Mountain (Ariz.) High School; 5-star prospect and consensus No. 1 quarterback in the nation in the class of 2014
Strengths: Size; maturity beyond his years. Good footwork and decision-making; quick release and more than adequate arm strength.
Weaknesses: Inexperience. Still learning the offensive system.
Overview: Allen has already shown his teammates and coaches a lot during scrimmages and practices, from what we've heard. Already 6-feet-4, he's got the size to scan the whole field and gets rid of the ball quickly. The only time you ever get the sense he's a freshman is when he's put under pressure, when he has shown he'll force a pass. Outside of that, he's been largely as advertised.
The odd man out? Sophomore Kenny Hill
2013 Stats: 16-22, 183 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT; 7 carries for 37 yards
Strengths: More athletic than the other two quarterbacks; has the ability to make plays with his feet. Good arm strength and quick release. [rl]
Weaknesses: Suspended indefinitely after public intoxication arrest last week. Has not been as efficient or accurate as the other two quarterbacks this spring.
Overview: Hill's chance at winning the starting job may have evaporated with his arrest last Thursday. With an indefinite suspension, he's not on the practice field and is missing critical snaps and time in the film room. Whether he can make up this deficit when he was already apparently slipping behind is a very big question mark.
First guess at who starts Aug. 28 at South Carolina: Allen, backed up by Joeckel and Hill.
Mark Passwaters is the Managing Editor of AggieYell.com. You can follow him on Twitter at themarkup.
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