It's Kenny Hill, if you please. That's the name of the Texas Aggies record-smashing quarterback, but please don't call him 'Kenny Football,' per his request. On Aug. 28, 2014, a sophomore stepped onto the Williams-Brice football field in Columbia, South Carolina and led his fighting Texas Aggies football team, ranked #21 in national polls, to a victory, against the #9 University of South Carolina gamecocks. The Aggies overwhelmed their new SEC rivals by the score of 52-28.
In his starting debut game, not only did Kenny Hill become the “first Texas A&M quarterback to surpass the 500-yard barrier in passing yards, and the sixth in SEC history to it,” Hill shared that victory with his team and gave credit to his coaches. Most importantly, his joy in playing the game, sharing his excitement, showed what kind of character and composure this young man exhibited under pressure.
For the entire eight months that have passed since the Chick-Fil-A bowl, virtually no attention and certainly very little respect has been offered to the 2014 Texas A&M football team, led by the talents of Head Coach Kevin Sumlin, offense play wizard Jake Spavital and defense transformer Mark Snyder. To be fair, there had not been much to discuss about the Aggies, beyond the hopes and cautious promises of “something to come” soon, they hoped.
Then there were more than a few distractions of some former Aggie defensive players whose around-town actions were, in fact, offensive. Police records were the only thing that were getting noticed and written about. The media was force-fed daily updates, during the off season, of the not-very-classy actions of a former Aggie quarterback and as the Aggie football team had to put up with hearing, endlessly, about the “other guy,” they all kept their heads down, worked out, practiced hard, and remained virtually silent, as achievers often do.
Until last night, that is, when the Texas Aggies played their first game of the year, on a road trip, against an opponent they had yet to face, with a debut starting quarterback full of potential. And they had a defensive unit full of high school standouts as the depth in the go-to charts to try and stop a team that, at #9 in the nation, was considered a sure-thing to win the game. Aggie hopefuls could only pray that the impending clobbering was not going to be too bad.
Even local furniture store Ashley Furniture was betting against the Aggies. They offered fans a chance to purchase furniture over a 12 day window that ended Aug. 26, on the premise that if the Aggies beat the Gamecocks by at least 10 points, then all the furniture purchases were going to be free. What Ashley Furniture’s CEO and management team didn’t seem to be aware of included: (a) the die-hard Aggie spirit built on years of blind optimism, unswerving faith and unending loyalty and (b) Kenny Hill.
Over 700 customers bet on the Aggies, by purchasing furniture from Ashley Furniture during the window, and the total amount of reimbursement will cost the company over $1,000,000. The number of people saying out loud, “I wish I would have bought furniture last week” was great. And far more than 700 customers have fallen in love with Ashley Furniture for their tremendous generosity, and will be lifetime customers, as you can imagine.
Who knew the Aggies were that ready to play? Kevin Sumlin did, and so did his coaches, and Kenny Hill, postgame, said he had a feeling it was going to go that way. He was unabashedly so excited, humble, and team-centric, as he spoke in composed tone with a smile that went on for miles. The immense amount of respect he gained from Aggie fans was equivalent only to the relief felt that now Aggie fans could finally hear the names of “this year’s team” said aloud, over and over, and allow the memory of former players to settle into their rightful place as “old news” and “good memories of days gone by….and by.”
The best record in Texas A&M school history was made last night by Kenny Hill. Per Aggie Athletics game notes, the school’s athletic department noted that Hill:
Passed for 511 yards, and three touchdowns, on 44 of 60 passing, breaking Manziel’s record of 464 yards vs. Alabama in 2013, plus Hill is the first Aggie QB to break 500 yards passing yards, and the sixth QB in SEC history to do this.
Those same 511 yards by an Aggie QB in a starting debut broke Ryan Tannehill’s record vs. Texas Tech in 2010.
With 60 pass attempts, became the first Aggie QB to attempt more than 50 passes in a game and emerge victorious, breaking Ryan Tannehill’s record of 50 against Texas Tech in 2010.
The 40 pass completions broke Jerrod Johnson’s school record, vs. Oklahoma State in 2010.”
Certainly another refreshing statistic is that Hill’s targets of these passes were by a first-time starting quarterback, made to first-time starters wide receiver Ed Pope, wide receiver Josh Reynolds, wide receiver Speedy Noil, wide receiver Boone Niederhofer and wide receiver Frank Iheanacho. The ultra-young defense starters did the Aggies proud as well, and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, in very class act comments after the first half, said that his team was simply being outplayed and otherwise made no excuses for the #9 Gamecocks being stymied.
After the resounding win went into the record books, and Kenny Hill went on camera, one journalist asked him about what nickname he wanted to be called. Hill shrugged his shoulders and said, “really, it’s up to you all (the media), and whatever you want to call me. One suggestion came from a tweet offered by Johnny Manziel, “Kenny Football,” as though relinquishing the title he had just officially legally trademarked. Hill quietly also gave credit to God for his performance Thursday night. He meant what he said, and it was so great to see a young man of humility succeed at such great level his first night out.
Hill was fast, but polite, to suggest that “I really don’t like that name ('Kenny Football') very much,” thereby suggesting the media pundits still had their work cut out for them to find the right moniker they wanted to give him. Yesterday, Johnny had already rechristened himself as Johnny JamBoogie for a highly misguided Snickers TV ad so he was ready to give the name up, perhaps.
For now, how about just calling Kenny Hill one of the most exciting young Aggies ever to play football for Texas A&M University, and call him “ours”? Gig 'em, Kenny Hill. Yes, sir.