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Texas Tech’s old quarterback Baker Mayfield led Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff last season after beating out former OU Sugar Bowl hero Trevor Knight, who transferred to Texas A&M in January and is locked in a battle for the starting job with Jake Hubenak, who spent his freshman season at Oklahoma State, and last season at A&M behind high school phenom Kyler Murray, the short-lived future Aggies’ star who transferred into Oklahoma as Knight transferred out and hopes to take over for Mayfield when 2016 concludes.
Of course, all due respect goes to Kyle Allen, the other A&M former five-star quarterback who bolted the program after the Aggies’ strange but true 2015 season. Allen landed with rising power Houston. Meanwhile, the search goes on at Texas …
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Anyway, that takes us back to College Station, where Knight, a graduate transfer with one season of eligibility left, seems to be ahead of Hubenak in the race to operate an offense run by new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, whose most recent stints came at UCLA and Arizona State.
Aggies fans might wonder why a quarterback seen as unfit to retain his starting job and lead Oklahoma’s new spread offense a year ago is worthy of running theirs now.
“They’ve competed well and with the new system and things that are in place, it’s given both of those guys new life, and I like where our team is right now,” A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said of his two quarterbacks during a recent podcast appearance with Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel.
During A&M’s Friday Night Lights scrimmage almost a week ago, neither Knight nor Hubenak was particularly sharp, according to Robert Cessna of the Bryan-College Station Eagle. Players and coaches were not made available after the scrimmage.
Knight went 8 of 16 for 137 yards. He was 3 of 7 for 19 yards with the first unit. He didn’t throw an interception and led two touchdown drives with the second unit. Hubenak completed 11 of 21 passes for 135 yards, going 7 of 12 for 83 yards with the first unit. He also fumbled once during a run.
If Knight wins the job, there’s a strong chance he’ll have a familiar backfield partner. Former OU running back Keith Ford, a one-time four-star recruit from Cypress Ranch, is pushing James White, the Aggies’ leading returning rusher, who posted 349 yards last season behind then-senior Tra Carson.
Ford, the Sooners’ starting running back to open the 2014 season, rushed for 369 yards and had a total of six touchdowns before breaking a bone in his lower leg that forced him to miss five games, and opened the door for then-freshman Samaje Perine. Perine’s eruption bumped Ford into a secondary role when he returned.
In late March 2015, Oklahoma suspended Ford indefinitely for academic and team rules violations. Ford’s parents released a statement shortly thereafter saying that they disagreed with coach Bob Stoops’ decision to suspend their son and that Ford never fully recovered physically or mentally from the injury.
After sitting out last season to satisfy transfer eligibility rules, Ford is ready to resume his career. It and it very likely will happen behind Knight, a tandem OU once had the highest of hopes for coming off that exhilarating Sugar Bowl win over Alabama at the end of the 2013 season.
Now we’ll just have to wait and see if either or both can bring back the magic at Texas A&M.