SEC Country is breaking down each of Texas A&M’s position groups as the entire 2016 roster begins reporting to College Station.
To start the series, we take a look at the quarterbacks. A group that boasts plenty of experience, but only a small amount of time spent in the Aggies’ Maroon and White.
Names you need to know: Trevor Knight (senior), Jake Hubenak (junior)
On the way: Nick Starkel
Analysis: There’s been plenty of fuss made over the departures of quarterbacks from College Station, but coach Kevin Sumlin still kept plenty of talent and experience on the roster.
He announced shortly after Texas A&M’s spring game that Knight, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma, had earned the starting job for the Aggies 2016 season opener against UCLA. Knight completed 25 of his 36 passes in the spring scrimmage, throwing two touchdowns and running for another.
While speaking with members of the media at a speaking event in Houston, Sumlin described Knight as “very hungry to do well. He lives that every day. I think he’s a leader, not just a verbal leader but a leader by example.”
While the former Sooner hasn’t taken any snaps against competition for the Aggies, he has a track record of being both a quick learner and a successful QB. In the eighth game of his career, he went 32-of-44 for 348 yards and four touchdowns to knock off No. 7 Alabama in the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl. Now with the Aggies, he has quickly gained the respect of his teammates and a grasp of the offense.
Should he not see the field for any reason, Hubenak spent last season with the Aggies and is among the better backups in the Southeastern Conference. The junior’s college stops include Oklahoma State as well as Blinn Junior College, where he played with wide receiver and current Texas A&M teammate Damion Ratley.
Joining Knight as a new arrival with plenty of influence on the offensive production is Noel Mazzone. The new offensive coordinator for the Aggies has coached at all levels during his career that began in the early 1980’s. He also has the luxury of coaching an upperclassman at quarterback, a first in the Sumlin Era at Texas A&M.
From the 2016 signing class, Starkel arrives from Liberty Christian. He’s developed a fantastic relationship with Mazzone and his son (and A&M coach) Taylor during the recruiting process, and the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder profiles as the exact fit for the offense after some grooming. Between he and Hubenak, the future of the position seems stable.
Key question: Which Knight is under center? If it is the same quarterback that took down the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl, the Aggies should be set for a strong 2016 that proves doubters wrong. If the same struggles that resulted in his 2015 benching emerge and create questions under center, it could cause even further issues for public perception.
Bottom line: With one year of eligibility remaining, Knight won’t be around for the long-term future of the program but will certainly help dictate if Sumlin is. If he can guide the program to anything over eight wins, it should set up the Aggies nicely as they continue to build in 2017 with Sumlin at the helm.