FORT WORTH, Texas — Kenny Hill knows a lot of people prefer to focus on his Big 12-high 13 interceptions last season or TCU’s losing record.
“I didn’t play as well as I wanted to last year,” Hill said. “I’m ready to come out and change the narrative about me.”
Three years after his record-setting starting debut succeeding a Heisman Trophy winner at Texas A&M, and one season at TCU, Hill is now a senior for the Horned Frogs.
“You have no idea,” Hill responded with a smile when asked how much he was looking forward to the season. “Been waiting for this one for a while. This is my last ‘first’ game in college. I’m ready to go.”
TCU, coming off a 6-7 record that was only its third losing season under 17-year head coach Gary Patterson, opens the new season Saturday night at home against Jackson State.
While Hill had all those interceptions last season, his 609 yards rushing were the most by a Big 12 quarterback and he also ran for 10 touchdowns. Hill threw for at least 377 yards four times in the first five games, and his 3,208 yards passing for the season were the third-most in school history (Only Trevone Boykin had more, surpassing that total twice).
Patterson has sensed a different confidence in Hill, both during the offseason and through fall camp.
“I think I broke him down a little bit too much, maybe not understanding him quite as well,” Patterson said. “He and I have a lot better understanding of what we’re trying to get accomplished, trying to put a chip on his shoulder. People believe that he’s not a good quarterback. … So he’s kind of like Trevone. How do you prove them wrong?”
In his first college start in the 2014 opener for the Aggies, their first game after Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel left for the NFL, Hill set a single-game school record. He threw for 511 yards in a 52-28 win at South Carolina, a prime-time televised game on a Thursday night before most teams opened their seasons two days later.
The Aggies started 5-0 for the first time since 2001, but then lost three straight while Hill struggled on the field. He didn’t play again after that for Texas A&M when he was suspended for violating team rules. It was his second suspension from the team in less than a year.
When he decided to leave Texas A&M and wanted to go to TCU, Hill was encouraged by Patterson to spend a semester at a junior college out of the spotlight. He enrolled at TCU for the 2015 fall semester when he had to sit out anyway to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.
Now going into his final college season, Hill feels like he is a different person than when he first got to College Station after a standout career at prep power Southlake Carroll — which is much closer to the TCU campus.
“I think I’ve just grown up, 22 years old, and I’ve been through a lot, seen a lot, experienced a lot, just grown up,” Hill said. “I’ve learned how to be more of a professional, learned what it takes to play this position in college, and I think that’s really just the biggest thing.”
Hill said he feels the same excitement for the start of his senior season as he did ahead of that impressive debut he did for his first career start in 2014. Actually, he feels that way every time it’s time to play a game.
“Man, you can just tell he’s ready to go,” Frogs senior cornerback Ranthony Texada said. “He’s a leader on this team and he’s ready to take that next step.”