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TCU’s Kenny Hill gladly accepting pressure this fall

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Baylor

It’s the word that has plagued TCU quarterback Kenny Hill since he started playing college football at Texas A&M: inconsistency. But as Hill prepares for his senior season in Fort Worth, he believes he’s ready to take that jump that fans have expected since he burst onto the scene in 2013.

“If I play well, we’ll ball. This team has everything it needs,” Hill said, before reiterating, “if I play well, we’ll play well.” 

Hill was a 4-star dual-threat quarterback out of Southlake, Texas in the Class of 2013. He played sparingly his freshman season in College Station, but became a household name during his sophomore campaign in 2014. It all started in the opening game that season when he threw for 511 yards in a win over South Carolina, which was part of a 5-0 start for the Aggies. But Hill then began struggling, with three-straight losses to Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama, losing those three games by a combined 91 points. Hill threw six touchdowns to six interceptions over that span and completed just one pass of over 30 yards. He then lost his starting job to Kyle Allen and in November was suspended two games due to a violation of team rules and athletic department policies.

After a redshirt season, Kenny Hill entered last season as the starting quarterback at TCU, but his inconsistencies continued. Hill had a pair of double overtime losses to Arkansas and Texas Tech, while also losing three games by 20+ points to West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Kansas State.

While last season’s struggles weren’t solely the fault of the quarterback play, Hill knows in a quarterback-driven Big 12 conference, as he goes, the team goes.

“I just got to play better, that’s the bottom line. I’ve got to play better for us to win,” Hill added.

But head coach Gary Patterson is taking some responsibility for Hill’s struggles, at times, last season, saying, “For me, I think I’ve got to do a better job of helping him with his swagger. I was pretty tough early doing things. And I think hadn’t been through that coach’s, so for me getting backed into it.”

Swagger? This coming from the guy who asked to be called “Kenny Trill” early in the 2014 season (a combination of true and real). His family would go on to trademark the phrase that year as well. Clearly, Hill and the family got ahead of themselves.

But now, this is a much more mature and humbled player.

“It’s really just about keeping my confidence in the same place the whole time and being consistence the whole way,” Hill said.

When asked about if his swagger is different from the South Carolina game in 2014, Hill added, “I don’t think I’ve ever lost that, it’s just being able to stay even keeled. It’s really all about being consistent.” 

But his head coach insists he won’t led Hill take all the blame for 2016’s struggles or put too much pressure on him this fall, with Patterson saying, “We’ve got to give him help. We’ve got to catch the ball better. I think we’re going to be better up front offensive line wise. We only lost one wide receiver. So I think all those things benefit him and then we’ve got
to put him in an offense too that bends toward his strengths.” 

There’s no doubt the offense should have more continuity this fall in Fort Worth as the Horned Frogs return their top nine receivers, only losing Deante Gray (1o catches). Taj Williams, John Diarse, KaVonte Turpin, Jaelan Austin and plenty more are all back in the mix for TCU.

Also, TCU may have the best collection of running backs in the Big 12 conference, led by Kyle Hicks, but including Darius Anderson and potential breakout star Sewo Olonilua.

But ultimately, Kenny Hill won’t less the pressure rest on anyone else’s shoulders, saying, “Our defense is sold. We’ve got all the skill guys we need… I’ve got to get the ball to these playmakers and let them do their thing. If I’m doing that and distributing like I should, I think we will have a good year.” 

Hm… “I think we will have a good year”? That doesn’t sound like Kenny Trill. 

But if Kenny Trill is gone and Kenny Hill is here to stay, I like the Horned Frogs’ chances this fall.

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