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12th Man

The tradition of the Twelfth Man was born on the second of January 1922, when an underdog Aggie team was playing Centre College, then the nation's top ranked team. As the hard fought game wore on, and the Aggies dug deeply into their limited reserves, Coach Dana X. Bible remembered a squad man who was not in uniform. He had been up in the press box helping reporters identify players. His name was E. King Gill, and was a former football player who was only playing basketball. Gill was called from the stands, suited up, and stood ready throughout the rest of the game, which A&M finally won 22-14. When the game ended, E. King Gill was the only man left standing on the sidelines for the Aggies. Gill later said, "I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I did not. I simply stood by in case my team needed me."

This gesture was more than enough for the Aggie Team. Although Gill did not play in the game, he had accepted the call to help his team. He came to be thought of as the Twelfth Man because he stood ready for duty in the event that the eleven men on the gridiron needed assistance. That spirit of readiness for service, desire to support, and enthusiasm helped kindle a flame of devotion among the entire student body; a spirit that has grown vigorously throughout the years. The entire student body at A&M is the Twelfth Man, and they stand during the entire game to show their support. The 12th Man is always in the stands waiting to be called upon if they are needed.

This tradition took on a different look in the 1980's when Coach Jackie Sherrill started the 12th Man Kick-Off Team composed of regular students through open tryouts. This 12th Man team performed very well and held opponents to one of the lowest yards per return averages in the league. Later, Head Coach R.C. Slocum changed the team to allow only one representative of the 12th Man on the kick off team.

The 12th Man tradition also took musical form. The 12th Man sings this song after each game in which the Aggies are outscored.

In October 1998 a new 12th Man tradition began – Maroon Out.  As the football team prepared to face Nebraska at home the student body sprang into action.  With plans to create a sea of maroon spirit throughout the stands, 31,000 maroon t-shirts bearing the words Maroon Out were sold at low cost to those attending the game. Even the Nebraska fans acknowledged after the game that the intensity of the Maroon Out spirit made a difference in the game; leading to A&M's 28-21 victory. As The Daily Nebraskan expressed it on October 12, 1998:

"A game that was dubbed a 'maroon-out' for Texas A&M fans proved to be a lights out for Nebraska. The fans dressed themselves in maroon T-shirts in an attempt to wash out the red and white that opponents have gotten used to. It worked."

Today, the student body stands ready at the 12th Man on the team decked out in their maroon shirts for every home game.

E. King Gill