Gary Patterson has named Kenny Hill the week one starting quarterback against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, per Carlos Mendez (Fort Worth Star Telegram) and Jeremy Clark (HornedFrogBlitz.com). Hill, now a redshirt junior, transferred to TCU from Texas A&M prior to the 2015 season and sat out a year per NCAA transfer rules, but played a key part on the practice squad. He had been locked in a quarterback battle with redshirt sophomore Foster Sawyer through spring and most of fall practices, which was “50-50” as described by co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Sonny Cumbie.
Patterson says Kenny Hill separated himself with ability to 'get himself out of problems and some things he can do in the running game.'— Carlos A. Mendez (@calexmendez) August 25, 2016
The Southlake Carroll product Hill started his career backing up Heisman winner Johnny Manziel as a true freshman in fall 2013, seeing limited time in four games and compiling a 72% completion rate along with a touchdown and no interceptions.
2014 was the year of the Trill- at least for the first five or so games of the season. Kenny “Trill”© had a coming out party in one of the first games of the season against preaseason #9 South Carolina, amassing 511 yards through the air on 44(!) completions and a ridiculous 73.3% completion percentage. He threw for three touchdowns on the day with zero interceptions and continued the success through games two and three against FCS team Lamar and Rice, combining for a 65% completion rate and an 8-0 touchdown-to-pick ratio over that span. The nickname was trademarked and the Heisman hype was real.
But then, after a series of three mid-season losses in which Hill’s play suffered (at least in comparison to his first five games) and an embarrassing off-the-field incident involving an arrest for public intoxication, the embattled QB dropped A&M and left College Station. At the suggestion of Gary Patterson, who had recruited Hill out of high school, Hill dropped football altogether and enrolled at Tarrant County College during the spring of 2015.
"I just told him he needed to get out of the limelight, and to just get back to being Kenny Hill -- the kid I knew when I recruited out of high school," Patterson told WFAA8’s Joe Trahan.
After spending all of 2015 as the practice squad quarterback, Hill was tabbed as the 2016 preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the year by the conference media at the start of media days, seemingly solidifying a foregone conclusion that he would be the Horned Frogs’ starter well before a team decision had been made. While this was going on, the hometown kid Foster Sawyer was continuing to quietly state his case to be the primary signal-caller for the Frogs in 2016. Presumably, Sawyer will again be relegated to a backup role, but if history is any indication there is an outside chance he may still start at least one game this year, and almost certainly, see playing time along the way.
The fact that he was tabbed for a preseason award at all speaks volumes about Kenny Hill’s talent and fit within the Meacham-Cumbie scheme. In a sense, Hill will have his work cut out for him in trying to spread the ball around to all of the weapons the Frogs have on the outside this year. Despite the loss of record-breaking TCU receiver Josh Doctson, the wide receiver corps is as talented as it’s ever been across the board with the return of Ty Slanina and Deante Gray, as well as the incoming and breakout talent such as freshman Isaiah Graham and sophomore Jaelan Austin.
With the use of his redshirt coming in his transfer/sit-out year, Hill still has two years of eligibility left to play with the Horned Frogs. TCU opens its season on Sept. 3rd against FCS foe South Dakota State at Amon G. Carter Stadium.