History of the 12th Man

Statue of E. King Gill, known as the 12th Man Statue in front of a fountain in Rudder Plaza

In 1980, the graduating class funded a statue of E. King Gill, which is known as the 12th Man Statue.

Credit: Texas A&M University Division of Marketing & Communications

On Jan. 2, 1922, the heavily outgunned Texas A&M football team was facing the top-ranked Centre College Praying Colonels in the Dixie Classic in Dallas. E. King Gill, an Aggie basketball player and former member of the football team, was up in the press box helping reporters identify players on the field below.

The Aggies found themselves plagued by injuries, and their reserves dwindled with every play. As Texas A&M Coach Dana X. Bible looked across his rapidly emptying bench, he suddenly remembered that Gill was 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 in case the 11 men on the field needed assistance. This earned him the title of "12th Man." 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.

The 12th Man Today

Gill’s willingness to serve his team in 1922 has been passed down through generations of Aggies for over 100 years, as Texas A&M’s student section stands together during entire football and basketball games, ready to enter the game if needed. At home football games, an average of 38,000 student attendees can be seen representing the 12th Man.

The power of the 12th Man is demonstrated in the unity, loyalty and willingness of Aggies to serve when called to do so. It may be most visible on gamedays, but students also embrace this spirit through generosity and service to their peers, community and the world. Texas A&M has become known as the "Home of the 12th Man," a name that embraces Gill’s simple gesture of service.

Learn more about the 12th Man

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