Texas A&M begins the search for a new starting quarterback when spring football drills begin Friday, with two players from Tarrant County high schools in the three-candidate mix to replace Johnny Manziel.
The departure of Manziel, a two-year starter and the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, means an open competition between last year’s backups, Matt Joeckel and Kenny Hill, and freshman Kyle Allen, a five-star signee who enrolled in January.
Joeckel, a fifth-year senior from ArlingtonHigh School, completed 22-of-37 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions last season. He got his first career start in A&M’s 52-31 victory over Rice, when Manziel served an NCAA-mandated suspension for the first half of the season opener.
Hill, a sophomore from Southlake Carroll, completed 16-of-22 passes for 183 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions.
Whoever lands the starting quarterback job in College Station will lead an offense that returns five starters from last year’s 9-4 team: four offensive linemen and receiver Malcolme Kennedy, A&M’s top returning pass-catcher (60 receptions, 658 yards, 7 TDs). Running backs Trey Williams (407 yards, 7.0 per carry, 6 TDs) and Tra Carson (329 yards, 5.3 per carry, 7 TDs) are the primary returnees at that spot.
A&M’s defense returns nine starters from a unit that struggled throughout the 2013 season. Because of ongoing construction at Kyle Field, the Aggies will not hold a formal spring game. A&M begins spring drills Friday, with the final workout set for Saturday, April 5.
_ Jimmy Burch