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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Freshman star continues growth despite a rough start to season

True+freshman+Kellen+Mond+received+the+position+after+starting+quarterbackNick+Starkel+became+injured.+Mond+finised+the+UCLA+game+and+started+the+three+subsequent+games.
Photo by Photo by C. Morgan Engel

True freshman Kellen Mond received the position after starting quarterback

Nick Starkel became injured. Mond finised the UCLA game and started the three subsequent games.

To say Kellen Mond has transformed into an entirely different player in just four weeks time may be an understatement.
Less than a month ago, the true freshman quarterback was thrust onto the field in primetime at the Rose Bowl after Nick Starkel suffered an ankle injury.
His opening act was rough, going 3-for-17 and 27 yards. Mond was unable to win, as the Aggies squandered a 34-point lead to UCLA — the second-largest comeback in college football.
Shades of that shameful Sunday were seldom seen from Mond this past Saturday in Texas A&M’s 50-43 overtime win over Arkansas.
“He was kind of tossed into the fire as a true freshman. He was just pushed in there and had to go into the game at a big-time moment,” sophomore running back Trayveon Williams said at Tuesday’s press conference. “Now he has a different look in his eyes, he looks at the game from a whole other aspect, he’s become way more vocal, he’s becoming just a leader he was born to be.”
A&M trailed the Razorbacks six times, and Mond helped the Aggies come back from each deficit.
“I’ve seen a lot of improvement just off his mindset and how he goes into games now and how he’s grown during the games and how he talks to during the games, hey what do you see now, what do you see here,” senior wide receiver Damion Ratley said.
Mond’s approach in Arlington was also much more expansive than how he played in Pasadena.
“He’s getting more comfortable with him and knowing what he can do,” A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “Particularly quarterbacks, as you get a good feel for them in game situations, what they like, the more they can talk to you about what they like, you can improve.”
Even former A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel learned on the fly during his Heisman Trophy winning season. You could see a drastic difference in play from his first game against Florida, in which the Aggies blew a 10-point lead, to game four where Manziel broke the Southeastern Conference’s single-game total yard record while running circles around the Arkansas defense.
Like Manziel, Mond put up 50 points in his first bout against the Razorbacks and has shown a major change in play as game experience increased.
“It’s just like when Johnny was here, the playbook grew as they could grow,” Sumlin said. “The thing about these guys is you don’t hit them in practice, they don’t get hit, how do they respond? How do they respond when things start happening and the pocket is for real and collapsing and guys are around you? You just try to settle guys down and get comfortable.”
Mond’s teammates said that his attention to detail has added to his quick progression.
“He’s really learning from every mistake, not making the same mistake twice, and he’s taking coaching,” senior safety Armani Watts said. “He’s young, he knows that, but he knows you can play to a higher standard no matter how old you are.”
Aggie receivers were unable to completely gel with one quarterback in fall camp when the position was up for grabs, but have developed continuity with Mond since he became A&M’s full-time signal caller.
“Now that he’s been the solidified starter the past couple of weeks, we get a lot of reps with him,” junior wide receiver Christian Kirk said. “He takes pretty much every rep during practice and that’s a lot of work for him to get and a lot of plays for us to get the timing down on plays, especially with receivers. Now we get a feel of what he’s thinking each and every play.”
Kirk added that Mond continues to create camaraderie with teammates off the field, making big moments, such as Kirk’s two touchdown catches from Mond against Arkansas, even more exciting.
“We sit with him every team meal, especially before the game,” Kirk said. “On Fridays and Saturdays, he’s always sitting with us receivers, always in the thick of conversations and that’s how you build relationships and that stuff makes it more enjoyable when you go out on Saturday and have fun and make big plays and then along with it get a big win.”

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