On the list of folks happy with the decision to name Trevor Knight the starting quarterback at Texas A&M: Katy Perry (everyone’s heard that star-crossed tale) and Sadie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame (yeah, this story’s new). But there’s another side of this coin.
Anyone who remembers the Sugar Bowl following the 2013 season — yeah Alabama fans, this one’s directed at you — still likely cringes at the memory of Knight’s 348 passing yards, four touchdown throws and the 45-31 beatdown Oklahoma laid on the Crimson Tide.
Yet, there’s still an undecided crowd — or at least there should be.
Since we’re in an election year, we’ll tab that as a precinct still reporting results. When it comes to the news of Knight being named the starter, coach Kevin Sumlin has to know that while his choice was the strongest with the data he had, there’s nothing guaranteed in college football.
“Trevor Knight will be our starter,” Sumlin said in a news release Monday. “His on-field performance this spring along with his leadership earned him the starting job.”
But will he be able to keep the job? Because history of longevity — both at Texas A&M and with Knight, himself– has been spotty at best.
Let’s start with Sumlin and his inability to stick with one signal caller of late.
In moves that were part disciplinary, part injury-related and part schizophrenic, Sumlin flip-flopped his starting quarterback more often than Donald Trump alters attack strategies. Gone are the glory years of Johnny Manziel with the Aggies – and boy, when Manziel is the bastion of stability for a football program, things have gotten ugly.
Three different quarterbacks — Kyle Allen, Kyler Murray and Jake Hubenak — made starts for Texas A&M in 2015. The lack of job security had to be one of the determining factors for both Allen and Murray (both former five-star recruits) transferring out of the mess in College Station, Texas.
Now that Knight has emerged victorious over Hubenak for the 2016 gig, he’s going to be counted on not to give Sumlin, and his itchy trigger finger, any reason to take aim at removing the QB1 tag from Knight on the depth chart.
Neither Sumlin nor Knight have long histories of stability. Sumlin hasn’t kept a starting quarterback in power since 2012-2013 (Manziel), and Knight’s never proved he can keep a job.
After Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops handed Knight the keys to the Sooners’ high-powered offense, Knight struggled. He was average under center in the team’s six wins (59.5 percent completion rate, eight touchdowns and five interceptions) and bad in its four losses (52.7 percent completion rate, six touchdowns and seven interceptions). He also got more mistake-prone as the season progressed. His six interceptions in November and December (99 pass attempts) were the same as in the three months prior (217 attempts).
Don’t forget, he also finished next to last in the Big 12 that season with 12 interceptions, and had an affinity for the pick-six.
Knight lost an offseason quarterback battle to Baker Mayfield prior to the 2015 season. He did appear in six games last year, but only threw 40 passes, two for scores and two to the other team. His 55 percent completion percentage doesn’t instill a lot of hope for 2016 in Aggieland.
But Texas A&M fans can take some solace in Sumlin’s words about spring prowess. He did lead the Aggies to three scoring drives in an April 9 scrimmage.
Let's try that again: #TAMU offense now with three TDs in 10 drives during scrimmage. All scoring drives led by QB Trevor Knight
— Jimmy Burch (@Jimmy_Burch) April 9, 2016
But as much as spring numbers pop — and as great as it is to imagine Southeastern Conference powerhouse Alabama being less than thrilled Knight plays for the Aggies — the larger sample size points toward a bumpy road ahead for the graduate transfer at Texas A&M.