Texas A&M football is 18 days away, and in the days leading up to the Aggie opener we’re answering the 50 biggest questions for the 2018 season.
Jimbo Fisher has remained coy about the starting quarterback position in his first offseason as the head coach of Texas A&M football. He either has yet to make a decision on who that guy is, or he’s taking advantage of the fact that, on the surface, he has two guys who could get the job done.
Both Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond have been competing for the starting position since 2017, the last offseason of Kevin Sumlin’s tenure. Starkel came away with the job out of camp last year only to suffer a leg injury that kept him out of six games.
Mond came in the second half of the ULCA game and started seven straight games for the Aggies after that. He was pulled in his final two starts against Mississippi State and Auburn for his erratic play, and Starkel assumed the starting role in the final four games of the season.
Starkel had five starts and appeared in seven games, while Mond had eight starts and appeared in 10 games. Here is how their stats broke down:
On the surface, that would look like a clear advantage for Starkel, and that’s the assumption most have operated under during the offseason. However, recent reports from practice have indicated Mond has taken significant strides as a passer, and the competition is a lot closer than you think.
But, the real question that is sort of the elephant in the room, especially given the climate of today’s college football landscape with every quarterback doing the best thing for themselves and their NFL draft stock, is would the loser of this competition stick around?
If you believe Mond, he isn’t going anywhere no matter what happens.
"“I just feel like there’s no reason to,” Mond said of transferring according to Ben Baby . “I feel comfortable in my position. I feel comfortable in the way Jimbo Fisher develops quarterbacks and has developed me so far since he got here. It never really crossed my mind and never will.”"
While he wasn’t specifically asked the question himself, which could be a subtle hint at who’s winning the job down the road, Starkel recently spoke about the relationship between the two, and it seems to be nothing but positive.
"“We’re cool – there’s no anger or anything toward each other,” Starkel said, according to the Houston Chronicle. “We know it’s a competition and we know we’re just going to put our head down and work. We know collectively we have to lead this offense and this team. We can’t be butting heads going against each other 24-7. That just creates a divide among the team. We’re there for each other, and we’re there for the team.”"
And to make matters even more maddening for those hoping for an answer, Fisher didn’t shed any light on the competition after Sunday’s open practice.
"“Both are rising to each other’s game,” Fisher said. “The competition has forced them to be consistent. Both guys are pressing each other very well. I feel comfortable with both guys, I really do.”"
It’s easy to take what both quarterbacks are saying with a grain of salt. Mond came in as a high-ranked recruit and one of the best players from his class, so if he was rubbed the wrong way for not getting a chance to start two seasons in a row, you might understand if he decided to transfer.
Starkel would be a little more of a surprise, mostly because he seems on track to win the job, but even if he did end up losing out to Mond. He didn’t put a whole lot of game film together last season and struggled at times. Him attracting interest from another Power 5 program with only two years of eligibility left is unlikely.
However, you also have to consider the fact that James Foster is a 4-star recruit from the 2018 class and Fisher got a quarterback he likes in Zach Calzada from the 2019 class.
Both are capable of winning the job, and both are very talented players. It wouldn’t be surprising if either one transferred at the end of the season. If you take them at their word, it seems like they are buying into what Jimbo Fisher is selling, and that’s a far cry from the previous regime.
If I were a betting man, I’d say both stick around and finish their careers in Aggieland.