Kliff Kingsbury demoted Jameill Showers.
Then he “saved” him.
In late August 2012, then-Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kingsbury called Showers into his office for a talk.
Johnny Manziel was going to start.
Showers was going to be the backup quarterback.
Once thought to be the heir apparent to NFL first-round pick Ryan Tannehill, Showers had lost that role to a then-unknown redshirt freshman. A month later, Johnny Football was taking the college football world by storm, winning the Heisman Trophy and leading the Aggies to an 11-win season in 2012.
“He was pretty encouraging. Johnny is obviously a special player and I have no resentment toward him. I mean, the man won the Heisman. So, obviously (Kingsbury and Kevin Sumlin) made a good decision to start him,” said Showers, who will start at quarterback for UTEP when they play Kingsbury’s new team, Texas Tech, on Saturday.
After the demotion, Showers credits Kingsbury for helping him find his passion for the game again.
“Honestly, he is the one saved me from going downhill. With (the previous A&M coach Mike) Sherman I didn’t know the offense and then they brought in this simple offense and (Kingsbury) was not the one to yell. ... He was OK with it. He brought my confidence back and brought my love of the game back.”
Once Showers decided to transfer from A&M — taking advantage of the transfer rule that allows graduate students to play immediately — he again needed Kingsbury’s help.
“When I decided to leave, he called whoever he could to get my name out there. He helped me the best he could.”
Showers looked hard at Arizona State and Houston but ultimately felt most comfortable at UTEP with first-year coach Sean Kugler.
He started the first seven games for UTEP last season, throwing for 1,263 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. However, a separated shoulder suffered against Rice on Oct. 26 put Showers back on the sidelines again.
“I feel good. Getting injured was a blessing in disguise, because it helped me slow down and be able to learn the offense,” Showers said. “As bad as I wanted to play, I only had a month to learn the offense (after transferring).
“I am just more confident this year.”
Against New Mexico last week, Showers completed 11 of 22 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown and added another 21 yards rushing.
The next day, Showers made it a point to watch a replay of Texas Tech’s 42-35 win over Central Arkansas.
“I watched it on Fox Sports replay and then on film, so I saw it a few times,” Showers said. “(Tech) play(s) a lot of man defense and if we do a lot of crossing routes and try to confuse some of their guys and get our guys open ... we will be OK. Central Arkansas was not favored and they came out and performed.
“(The close-call from Tech) gives us a lot of confidence.”
Saturday, Kingsbury and the Red Raiders, will have to deal with the quarterback he helped create.
“(He helped me with) quick game footwork and then being confident and making throws,” Showers said. “Whenever I would shy away from throwing from the far hash — throwing an out route — he told me to trust my arm.”
“Whenever I was in Sherman’s offense I had a tendency to hold the ball and he helped me break that bad habit.”
Kingsbury doesn’t see knowing Showers’ tendencies as an advantage, though.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I just think the offenses are so different. I know he’s a great young man, he’s a great leader, and he’ll do everything he can to help that team win, so we’ll have our hands full.”
Win or lose Saturday, though, Showers has another goal in mind — to shake Kingsbury’s hand.
“He made it feel like (playing football was like being in) high school again,” Showers said. “I owe him a lot.”