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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Photo by By: Bryan Johnson

Kyle Allen dropping back to pass against Lamar. 

Sunday, the Texas A&M football team will report for its preseason training camp after a summer of workouts and seven-on-seven action. For the third time in four years, head coach Kevin Sumlin has a quarterback decision on his hands.

In Sumlin’s first year with the Aggies, the competition was between semi-experienced Jameill Showers and redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel. Showers came into the training camp as the starter, but Manziel eventually beat him out after stringing together impressive practices.

Two years later, after Manziel departed, Sumlin’s logic reversed. This time, Sumlin gave experienced sophomore Kenny Hill the nod instead of No. 1 rated freshman quarterback Kyle Allen. This, too, was announced just over a week before the season opener.

Nevertheless, Allen started in the final five contests of the 2014-15 season, and amassed 1,322 yards with 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Leading the Aggies to a 3-2 record in those games, the Arizona native garnered the admiration and respect from his teammates.

“You’ve got to have a lot of mental toughness to lose your starting job and keep on working,” said senior defensive lineman Julien Obioha. “It shows that he was preparing like a starter when he was a backup, which a lot of people don’t have the mental toughness to do. That’s a tribute to how great of a person he is, how great of a football player he is and good of a leader he is.”

The highlight of Allen’s run was perhaps the 41-38 victory over No. 3 Auburn in Jordan-Hare Stadium, where four first half touchdowns through the air helped the Aggies pull off the upset of the season. In his last outing, Allen impressed again by tallying four passing touchdowns, which was good enough to earn him Liberty Bowl MVP honors.

“I think he responded pretty well,” said junior receiver Josh Reynolds. “Even when he didn’t win the starting position at first he held on and didn’t bow his head. But, I felt like it made him a better player when he made it to the field.”

However, incoming freshman Kyler Murray will make it interesting come training camp, as he also boasts a No. 1 rating to his billing for the high school class of 2015 and was recently named the Gatorade Player of the Year.

“Oh, for sure there’s going to be a competition,” said senior punter Drew Kaser. “At every position there’s competition and that’s what makes you better.”

The dual-sport newcomer joined the team in June for summer workouts and has been active in the seven-on-seven scrimmages. While Allen fits the pocket passer mold, Murray differs with a more “Johnny-like” style.

“It’s going to be a great competition during the fall,” Obioha said. “He brings a lot of traits to the table; he’s very mobile, very athletic and he can throw the ball, but Kyle brings a lot to the table too.”

Whoever the quarterback is against Arizona State in Reliant Stadium on Sept. 5, the A&M offense will be loaded with returning weapons for him. Sophomore receiver Ricky Seals-Jones and Reynolds come in at 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-4, respectively, while sophomore Speedy Noil provides contrast with his short, 5-foot-11 physique and uncanny playmaking ability. Reynolds, who broke the school record for receiving touchdowns in a season with 13, is optimistic about his quarterback’s surrounding cast.

“It makes my job a lot easier because if they try to double team me, they’ve still got three other guys that they’ve got to deal with,” Reynolds said. “It really just makes the offense flow a lot easier having all those weapons.”

Like Allen, incoming freshman receiver Christian Kirk played in Arizona and arrived during spring practices after early graduation. He raised eyebrows after being recognized as a starter at the SEC Media Days early in mid-July. Kirk certainly has cleats to fill, as he will take on former receiver Malcome Kennedy’s position.

“Kirk is a great player, man,” Reynolds said. “He has really filled in Malcome’s spot really well. He plays like Malcome but has a little more agility. He’s going to help the team a lot.”

The Aggies first practice in full pads will take place on Aug. 14. Looking strictly at the past, it’s probable that Sumlin will name the starter by two weeks before the first game.

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  • Allen quarterback Kyler Murray (1) eludes Cypress Ranch linebacker Brayden Stringer (33) during the first half of the UIL 6A Division I state championship football game Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

    Photo by LM Otero

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