He had career plans that would have taken him far away from the football field.
"I thought about being a lot of different things. At one point I was going to go to law school. That didn't work out. Probably should have done that though instead of dealing with you guys," he said, laughing as he referred to the media.
But after he began his coaching career with Price, he never looked back. His ascent has been helped by the no-nonsense attitude he has with players.
"He's going to tell you how it is," Texas A&M senior defensive lineman Spencer Nealy said. "I don't like people who beat around the bush. Coach Sumlin, from Day 1, if you were playing bad he was going to tell you you're playing bad."
To that end, he always looks for those teaching moments.
One of Keenum's fondest memories of Sumlin came when the quarterback tossed an interception in the end zone that cost Houston a game. Keenum knew everyone was unhappy with him, but was relieved when Sumlin met him as he came off the field and put his arm around him.
"It was a mistake that I wish I hadn't made, but he wanted to make sure I was going to learn from it and not do it again," Keenum said. "He's always teaching in every situation that he's in and I think that's a big part of who he is and him being a great coach."
Despite Sumlin's success at Houston, the expectations for Texas A&M in its move from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference were low entering this season. The Aggies have proven doubters wrong with a 5-2 record in the SEC, including their upset of then top-ranked Alabama two weeks ago behind freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Those who have known Sumlin longest expected nothing less.
"I'm impressed with everything," Price said. "But it doesn't surprise me."
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