Kenny Hill makes Aggie fans forget Johnny Football with stellar opener

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All it took was one game for Kenny Hill to make Texas A&M fans forget about their former star quarterback and salivate over their team's now-limitless future.

At the same time, a national TV audience watched and became equally enamored.

Hill, a sophomore, had big shoes to fill in replacing Johnny Manziel at the helm of the Aggies offense. He wasted no time showing in the season opener against South Carolina that he could do more than just match the former Heisman winner's production: he could beat it.

Looking like an experienced gamer rather than a first-time starter, Hill sliced the Gamecocks defense for 511 yards through air and three touchdowns. That came while completing 44 of 60 passes as Texas A&M trounced 52-28 in Columbia, S.C.

"I just wanted to get the first press conference over with," said Hill, after a game in which he showed no skittishness and boundless poise. "I get nervous up here."

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A game of comparisons

The comparisons of Hill and Manziel were bound to happen.

After all, both donned the maroon and white. They play the same position, came with a certain level of hype and stunned nationwide audiences with their early performances.

Now the first comparison is an easy one after Hill's 511-yard performance in his first start broke the school single-game passing record of 464 yards set by Manziel against Alabama last year.

The next comparison will be more interesting: can Hill also win a Heisman trophy, or will he even win a conference or national championship with this Aggies squad, something Manziel was never able to accomplish?

Not the same quarterback

For all of the similarities between the two players in terms of success, Hill is definitely his own man as a signal-caller.

The difference starts in the box score, which shows that Hill ran only seven times - for a whopping total of five yards.

That's not the type of quarterback Johnny Football was, who impressed just as much by his seemingly effortless ability to evade pressure and dart down the field as by any analysis of his passing ability.

What was truly impressive about Hill though was his efficiency. At 6-foot-1 and only 215 pounds, Hill doesn't have what professional scouts call an ideal quarterback frame. 

But what the new quarterback has going for him is an almost psychic ability to see where receivers are going to be, get rid of the ball quickly and lead them so they are the only ones who can make the catch.

That was the case on his last two touchdown throws. On a 14-yard touchdown reception to Edward Pope, the sophomore quarterback stood tall in the pocket and led the wide receiver for a diving catch just as he broke free of a defender.

In the third quarter, Hill hit Josh Reynolds on a 5-yard floater that was perfectly placed for the wideout to pluck the ball and stay in bounds for the touchdown grab.

If Hill continues to sling the ball with confidence and ease, it might not be too long before he becomes the standard by which all other Aggie quarterbacks get measured.

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