Quarterback Nick Starkel has taken a back seat to Kellen Mond for Texas A&M football, but he deserves to start, even if it is with another team.
College football is becoming almost like NFL free agency in the way players transfer with regularity these days. This is especially true for quarterbacks. According to this 247 Sports article, 11 of the 19 5-star quarterbacks since 2010 have transferred, and 52.6 percent of Elite 11 quarterbacks have transferred as well.
Of course, that list of 5-star recruits includes two former Texas A&M Aggies. In the infamous winter of 2015, both Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray announced their intentions to transfer. What many expected to be the start of something special turned out to be the beginning of the end of the Sumlin era.
These two quarterbacks could not have had more different trajectories.
Allen moved on to Houston to join Tom Herman, who didn’t even stick around to coach Allen after he convinced him to sign with the Cougars, and was benched by Major Applewhite in the middle of his only season. He declared for the 2018 NFL Draft with a year of eligibility left and actually made his NFL debut with the Carolina Panthers today as a backup.
Murray transferred to Oklahoma and won the 2018 Heisman Trophy. He’ll compete against Alabama in the College Football Playoff next weekend.
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Sumlin mishandled that entire situation, and it seemed as if he made promises he couldn’t keep and ran a culture that rubbed his 5-star quarterbacks the wrong way. That won’t be the case with Jimbo Fisher.
When the Zach Calzada stuff with Georgia was brought up at Wednesday’s signing day press conference, Fisher said “I’m not a dog-and-pony recruiter. I’m not a circus act when we recruit.” The 2019 recruits seem to agree.
So what does this all mean for current Aggie quarterback Nick Starkel? He hasn’t announced a decision to transfer, but no one would blame him if he did. He’s a year older than Mond and is clearly the backup. It’s very similar to the situation Alabama faced this year with Tua Tagovailoa taking over and Jalen Hurts taking a back seat.
At this point, nothing would shock me. Starkel is good enough to get a starting job somewhere else, but I could also see him sticking with his commitment to Texas A&M.
In seven games during the 2017 season, he completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,793 yards, 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. He went off in the Belk Bowl, throwing for 499 yards and four touchdowns.
It was somewhat of a shock, at least to those who weren’t at practice, when Mond won the job over Starkel in fall camp. Starkel was clearly better in the 2017 season. However, Mond showed he took massive steps forward. Even though there were times he was frustrating to watch in 2018, he played well enough to keep his job when healthy.
The one thing that could keep Starkel around for another season is the fact so many quarterbacks are looking to or already transferred in 2018 for the 2019 season. He could also prefer to graduate before transferring.
One thing that is abundantly clear: Starkel deserves to start at the collegiate level. He proved he was good enough under Sumlin, and might be even better now that he’s learning from one of the best coaches at developing quarterbacks.
We should know what Starkel plans to do in the next month or so. Stay tuned.