Not since John Lennon and The Beatles’ rooftop concert in 1969 has someone so resoundingly passed an audition as new Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill Thursday night at South Carolina.
Get back to where you once belonged, Texas A&M; back into the forefront of the SEC. Sure, it’s only Week 1 and just a single performance from Hill. But a 52-28 pasting of the No. 9 team in the nation is about as good as it gets for a team expected to regress.
Much of that regression was the anticipated drop-off with Johnny Manziel gone from Aggieland.
When Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin named Hill the starter two weeks ago, I wrote on this very site that simply playing well wouldn’t be enough for the sophomore quarterback to make his name. Quarterbacks playing in Sumlin’s system routinely put up big numbers.
Kenny Hill would need to produce, and do so with flash, to step out of the immense shadow of Manziel. And Hill brought the flash, alright.
Kenny Hill had an emphatic debut on Thursday. Here's how he stacks up with Johnny Manziel's best performances – pic.twitter.com/iE6jxWE1kK
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 29, 2014
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Kennymania has begun in earnest. For at least the next week, College Station will transform into Kenny Hill’s own Ed Sullivan Show, complete with screaming coeds.
He had help, of course. Wildly popular Manziel had a partner in wide receiver Mike Evans, and Thursday Malcome Kennedy’s 14 receptions for 137 yards made him the Paul to Hill’s John.
The comparisons to Manziel are unavoidable, but another worth making is 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. He commanded the spotlight in his debut start similarly a season ago, roasting Pitt for 356 yards and four touchdowns on 25-of-27 passing.
Our microwave culture being what it is, Hill was guaranteed to generate either undue praise or undue criticism based on his first outing. Of course, anyone associated with A&M would gladly accept former over the latter, as it means the Aggies passed their one, true audition for the next month.
Upcoming games against Lamar, Rice and SMU promises a lot more sweet music from Hill. A&M’s next SEC game on Sept. 27 is a road trip to Arkansas, which went winless in the conference a season ago.
Kennymania might be out of control by the time the Aggies visit Starkville and Mississippi State on Oct. 4.