The Texas A&M football program has been desperate for some good news lately, anything to make them forget about the mess Jimbo Fisher is leaving in College Station, and the massive $77.5 million buyout he's due.
Aggie fans got just the moment they were looking for in the fourth quarter of their home matchup against the Abilene Christian Wildcats on Saturday, when A&M's "12th Man" special teams unit took the field for a kickoff.
Texas A&M sent out their "12th man kickoff unit" which included walk-on players only
The unit forced a fumble and recovered it?
— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 18, 2023
Leading 31-10 following a Texas A&M touchdown, interim head coach Elijah Robinson sent out 11 non-scholarship players for kickoff duties. The all walk-on unit booted the ball downfield, and delivered a vicious hit to the Wildcat's kick returner to force a fumble and recovery to give the ball right back to their offense.
A&M faithful at Kyle Field went berserk. A crowd long dubbed "The 12th Man" loved the unique special teams unit which took its name from them. The Aggies have a long tradition of both a raucous crowd, and assembling a kickoff team of all walk-on players, and using that unit in games throughout the season.
The first appearance of an all-walk on kickoff unit for the Aggies was in 1983 in a showdown at Kyle Field against Cal. Then head coach Jackie Sherrill had a wild idea to get his team to perform better, which he dubbed the "12th Man Kickoff Team". Coach Sherrill looked for anyone on campus willing to sacrifice their body on kickoffs and proceeded to send out his underdog kick coverage squads on Saturdays.
His strategy was considered crazy by some and may have rubbed some of the scholarship players wrong, but it paid off for Sherrill. His kickoff units allowed just 12.5 yards per kick return in his first five seasons, and he created one of the cooler traditions in all of college football.
Sherrill was relieved from his duties as Texas A&M head football coach after six years, but the "12th Man Kickoff Team" tradition lived on. For years, following Aggie coaches would send at least one walk-on player out on kickoff coverage wearing a number 12 jersey.
Sherrill was honored at halftime of Saturday's game against Abilene Christian, and sending out an all walk-on unit was an awesome tribute to the former Aggie coach. Once again the walk-on players went above and beyond, turning a special college football tradition into one of the best moments you'll see all season.
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