On Jan. 2, 1922, the heavily outgunned Aggies were facing the top-ranked Centre College Praying Colonels on the gridiron in the Dixie Classic in Dallas. An Aggie by the name of E. King Gill, a squad player for Texas A&M’s football team, was up in the press box helping reporters identify players on the field below — and what was happening on the field wasn’t pretty.
The Aggies found themselves plagued by injuries, with their reserves seemingly dwindling with every play. As Texas A&M Coach Dana X. Bible looked across his rapidly emptying bench, he suddenly remembered Gill’s presence in the stands. Bible waved Gill down to the sideline and told him to suit up. Gill ran under the bleachers and put on the uniform of injured running back Heine Weir, who had been knocked out of the game in the first quarter.
Gill returned to the sideline, where he stood ready to play for the entirety of the game. When the last play was run, the Aggies found that they had pulled off one of the greatest upsets in college football history, winning the game 22-14.
And Gill remained standing, the only player left on the team’s bench.
Gill’s willingness to serve his team in 1922 has passed down from generation to generation of Aggies for more than nine decades, as Texas A&M’s student section stands together during entire football and basketball games, a symbol of the 12th Man on the team.
The power of the 12th Man is echoed in the unity, the loyalty, and the willingness of Aggies to serve when called to so. And it is the reason that Texas A&M has earned a name that embraces Gill’s simple gesture of service: Home of the 12th Man.
To learn more about the rich history of the 12th Man, visit http://12thMan.tamu.edu/.