Aggie fans are always looking for a lot of excitement on the field, but now, the team has added some new excitement with how they get to the field.
It's an entrance that keeps some of the old traditions and sprinkles in some new stuff. The players have farther to walk, but it's all in an effort to get them and the fans closer in spirit...and you thought they were close before here in Aggieland.
For years, the Aggie football team made the short trip from the Bright Complex into Kyle Field from the south end zone. But this season, A&M decided to take a different path with a different ending to get their games started.
"When you run out, you hit that smoke and run out on Kyle Field with all those fans screaming, I guess there's no feeling like it," said senior offensive lineman Patrick Lewis. "My teammates love it."
"People in the stands are just sitting there wondering what's going to happen, and when they see the fog and see us come out, it's crazy," added junior defensive lineman Demontre Moore.
Ask Coach Kevin Sumlin about how the entrance came to be, and you'll find some modesty.
"I just read a script," he said with a laugh after the Florida game. "Everybody acts like everything that goes on around here, I do. There's a bunch of people that work here."
That includes A&M Senior Associate Athletic Director Jeff Schmahl.
"Basically, it came from a meeting with Coach Sumlin with my staff, " he said. "He just wanted to change things up a little bit with the team entrance, wanted to make it more exciting, to have a little bit more pop."
12th Man TV captured that pop perfectly when they strapped a camera on top of the helmet of freshman quarterback Matt Davis for the March of Honor before the Florida game.
From the Bright Complex, the team goes under the west stands, led by the Drum Corps through the masses on a path cleared by Aggie cadets. Schmahl says the march was another Sumlin marching order.
"He wanted them to get even more excited about the start of the game, so he thought that that would be good," said Schmahl. "Could we, indeed, clear the pathway, because this is a major route where a lot of people are going to get to their seats in the stands. So we got some assurances that, yes indeed, we can clear that pathway."
"That walk right there gets your heart pumping," said senior wide receiver Kenric McNeal. "It's kind of like a second Spirit Walk for us. It's kind of good for us to interact with the fans a little bit more before we hit the field."
"With that walk, that eight minute walk, it's a long walk, but it's a walk of getting your mind right for the game, and then once you get towards the end of the tunnel and then you see that smoke, you know it's time to go," added senior defensive back and return man Dustin Harris.
Eventually, the march leads the players into the northwest corner's tunnel to the field. It's a tunnel the players came out before the Bright Complex went up about a decade ago. Now, they exit to more than a band or drums.
The man behind some of the new flavor of the entrance, Kanye West, he of five platinum albums and 18 Grammy awards. HIs song, "Power," plays as the team exits the tunnel.
"One of the things that our old entrance lacked was that big pop, that wow moment when the fans would all be able to cheer," said Schmahl. "They tended to clap in unison and then sing the War Hymn, and we kind of lacked that big kind of 'here they come' moment."
"The entrance now compared to the entrance last year, it puts more of a pumping of your blood into coming out, especially onto Kyle Field, into the 12th Man," said Harris.
Smoke obviously isn't uncommon for entrances. The University of Miami is probably most famous for it. But now, the Aggies come out to a puff of it -- not a huge plume like some, but enough to enhance the entrance.
"We've got one of the great game experiences in the country, in all of college football," said Schmahl. "One of the things that makes it so special to come to Kyle Field is that, yeah, we've got some new things that build on old traditions, and we've got some traditions that go back a hundred years of how we've done it at Texas A&M, but all-in-all, you package it, bundle it all together, and you go, 'Kyle Field is unlike any other place in college football,' and it really is a special place."
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