Kenny Hill remembers being without a team. It was only a year ago, and he still can’t forget the feeling.
“That was humbling,” he said. “I think that was the biggest thing that made me grow up. I needed to get it together a little bit.”
He smiled as he spoke. Standing in the indoor practice facility at TCU, as a quarterback for the Horned Frogs, he could afford to let himself smile. He has a team, is in line to be the starter, and his troubled time at Texas A&M appears behind him.
“I just came here, new opportunity, to try to see what I can do,” he said. “Just start over fresh, do the best I can while I’m here.”
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Kenny Hill and Foster Sawyer, competing for the starting quarterback position, are both taking reps with the first team and will continue to into fall, coach Gary Patterson said.
Hill and fellow Frogs quarterback Foster Sawyer spoke to reporters for the first time after practice Thursday. They talked about their competition for the No. 1 job in spring practice and how they are helping each other.
“It’s definitely rewarding to have someone on your sideline to have your back,” Sawyer said. “The funny thing is, that’s the guy you’re competing with.”
But Hill is at a slight disadvantage. He had to sit out a year following his transfer from Texas A&M, where he was lost his starting position halfway through the 2014 season and was released from his scholarship afterward. He had been suspended for a violation of team rules.
It was tough, having to go home and not really being sure what school I could go to. That was tough.
TCU quarterback Kenny Hill, on last spring
It was a far fall from the way the former Southlake Carroll star started the season for the Aggies as a redshirt freshman, throwing for an A&M debut-record 511 yards against South Carolina.
He had gone from sudden early Heisman candidate to looking for a new place to play, enrolled at Tarrant County College in the meantime.
“It was extremely humbling,” he said.
TCU was on the horizon as a potential landing spot. The Frogs and coach Gary Patterson kept an eye on him. Hill watched some spring practices last season, and in June, enrolled at TCU.
He spent last season playing scout-team quarterback and sitting out his transfer year.
“He expected me to come here and bust my butt and work hard in the classroom and help the defense get better,” Hill said of Patterson’s expectations. “That was my role coming in, and then when I did have a chance to battle for the spot, go battle.”
Patterson said on the field, Hill and Sawyer have good days and bad days.
“It’s a day-to-day thing,” he said. “Saturday wasn’t good for them. Then the Tuesday scrimmage was better for them. But you know, you can tell every day we keep getting better.”
It’s a day-to-day thing. ... But you can tell every day we keep getting better.
TCU coach Gary Patterson, on the quarterback play
That’s all Hill wants right now — a chance to play football and get better.
“I learned a lot,” he said of his time at A&M. “I think I learned a lot about myself, though. What I can do and then the things I really needed to get better at.”
He said TCU was in his final three candidates out of high school. It wasn’t hard for him to try to come back to TCU.
“Close to home, come back to my family, which is good for me,” he said. “And my church is right back in Southlake. Get to go back every Sunday.”
Now that he has a team again, Hill will get a chance to lead it when TCU plays its spring game on April 1.
So his wait for competition is almost over.
“It was tough, having to go home and not really being sure what school I could go to,” he said. “That was tough. But it was one of those things I knew that God would have me and put me in the right place.”