Texas A&M football: Nick Starkel’s departure means everything is on Kellen Mond

By Richard Badillo

One year ago, Texas A&M quarterbacks Kellen Mond and Nick Starkel were in the midst of a heated quarterback competition. Now, only one remains.

Texas A&M quarterback Nick Starkel announced that he will transfer from the program. Starkel will graduate in May and then expects to be on campus at a new program around July 1 for summer drills with two years of eligibility remaining.

The Eagle is reporting that Starkel is looking at SMU, Duke, Ohio State and Arizona so far.

Starkel is a nice player and showed some flashes at Texas A&M. He threw for 499 yards and four touchdowns in a 2017 bowl loss to Wake Forest in 2017. He ultimately completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,793 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions as a redshirt freshman. However, Mond convincingly beat him in a final offseason quarterback competition.

This move was somewhat inevitable. Mond and Starkel are both in the same class now, so one of them was scheduled to never see the field. Starkel got the short end of the stick. But now, Starkel’s departure leaves the future of Texas A&M football on Kellen Mond.

Mond isn’t the only quarterback on campus, but he’s the only one who has ever proved anything at the college level. Behind him are three quarterbacks who have thrown a combined one career pass attempt.

Texas A&M had some notable issues keeping quarterbacks on campus under Kevin Sumlin. This situation isn’t comparable to that. Mond beat Starkel in a traditional quarterback battle. There are still four talented options on campus.

Redshirt sophomore Connor Blumrick has dealt with injuries since his senior year of high school, and then arrived in College Station with Mond. Redshirt freshman James Foster is likely in line to be the primary backup, but he’s never played a snap. Early-enrollee Buford (GA) Lanier QB Zach Calzada has potential, but completed barely 50 percent of his passes in high school.

All three of these players have upside. Foster and Calzada are both Jimbo Fisher recruits – this staff hand-picked them. Fisher wouldn’t have done that if he didn’t have faith in them. But still, none are sure things. There isn’t a Kyler Murray or Kyle Allen on campus; no one is especially likely to push hard for playing time.

Mond is Fisher’s choice. Fisher never faltered from Mond, even when he was inconsistent at times. That was a welcome sight after the Kevin Sumlin era, when quarterbacks were constantly shuffled in hopes of winning immediately. Fisher felt comfortable working through growing pains.

The former San Antonio Reagan quarterback rewarded Fisher’s faith with 3,107 passing yards, 474 rushing yards and 31 total touchdowns in a 9-4 campaign. His 51.5 percent completion jumped up to 57.3, and he went from 6.1 to 7.5 yards per pass attempt.

Those numbers don’t do justice to how important Mond will be in 2019. With Starkel and running back Trayveon Williams gone, Mond is responsible for 88.5 percent of the returning Texas A&M offense. Thirty-one of the 32 returning offensive touchdowns are also his.

For better or worse, Texas A&M’s offense will sink or swim with Mond at the helm. Mond is the present – and the future.

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