Jarrett Guarantano didn’t mean for the question to come out that way. The redshirt freshman Tennessee quarterback was trying to recall which year Kenny Hill burst into the national consciousness by torching South Carolina in his first career start in the first game broadcast by the SEC Network. After some brief mental math, it was determined that Guarantano was a high school junior in 2014 when we made Hill a Heisman candidate after one good game as a Texas A&M sophomore.
Hill and Guarantano were among five college quarterbacks who spent their spring breaks in San Diego working with coach George Whitfield, and Hill was the most grizzled of the group. Hill, now a fifth-year senior at TCU, shook his head. “Man,” he said. “I’m old.”
Hill is only 22, but it feels as if he’s been in the public eye for a decade. To him, it feels even longer. Ask about the Texas A&M days, and he furrows his brow like a Baby Boomer trying to remember disco. “That feels like forever ago,” he said. “That feels like a whole other lifetime.”
In college football years, it was another lifetime.
As he heads into his final collegiate season, Hill can laugh about the nuclear reaction to that South Carolina game. The boy who struggled to handle all that adulation has grown into a man who understands his football mortality. He wants to play in the NFL, but he has seen how tough it is to get there. This might be Hill’s last season under bright lights, and he hopes to lead the Horned Frogs better than he did as a junior. He knows he may never match the hype thrust upon him following the first game of the post-Johnny Football era at Texas A&M, but at least he knows how to manage it now. In fact, he has some advice he’d love to give to Kenny Trill. “I would tell myself not to worry so much about going to parties and getting out and meeting all these people,” Hill said. “I wouldn’t worry about all that stuff. I’d worry about making sure I did my laundry all the time. I would have no clothes. It’s little stupid stuff that you take for granted, but it’s stuff that I think would have been a lot better for me to be doing at the time.”