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The Battalion

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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Mond on a mission

Photo by Photo by Meredith Seaver

Senior quarterback Kellen Mond is close to breaking several Texas A&M football program records.

Texas A&M’s dynamic offensive duo is no more.
A&M fans have seen quarterback Kellen Mond and wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon take the field together for the past three years, but that won’t be the case this season.
Mond’s relationship with Ausbon goes back to their high school days, when they were roommates at IMG Academy. They were both committed to Baylor before ultimately choosing the Aggies over the Bears.
This will be the first fall since 2015 that the pair won’t see the field together as Ausbon has elected to sit out of the 2020 season to focus on the 2021 NFL draft.
Though he never considered opting out of this season, Mond said he and Ausbon discussed the right path for the receiver.
“Me and him had conversations going back to probably a week before he decided to opt out, maybe even two weeks,” Mond said. “Being his roommate, best friend and everything, I always want to put his mental health first, and if he doesn’t think he can be on the field at the time, then I never want to pressure anybody to be back on the field.”
Despite the history between the pair, A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said Mond has taken his friend’s decision in stride.
“I’m sure inside it hurt him, and I know it did,” Fisher said. “The responsibility he has to this program and his other teammates, I think is a tribute to him about how he’s handled that situation. I’m sure inside he hates it, but it’s been the same Kellen the whole time.”
Fisher said Mond’s reaction to the news is a testament to his maturity.
“From the day he got here this camp, he hasn’t changed a lick,” Fisher said. “He’s been outstanding. His demeanor, his ideas with the team, the way he’s played, his personality, his influence on guys, the way he’s pushed guys, he’s been exactly the same. When Jhamon elected to do that, what you saw was the maturity out of Kellen. You didn’t see anything different.”
This maturity isn’t something new though.
“It’s not that he’s mature [now], because he’s always been very mature, but you see him growing up, and he’s turned into a man,” Fisher said. “He’s going through reads [in practice] and doing the things he needs to, but I saw him grabbing guys on the side, other quarterbacks, and teaching them … receivers, running backs, even the linemen. … You felt his presence and leadership.”
It is his experiences over the past three years that have developed that quality in him.
Throughout his time at A&M, Mond has battled for and lost the starting spot, only to be thrust back into it in the first game of his college career when now-San Jose State quarterback Nick Starkel went down with a broken ankle against UCLA in the season opener of Mond’s freshman campaign.
In 2018, he earned the starting role and is A&M’s first home-grown senior starting quarterback since Ryan Tannehill in 2011.
Another trait that has helped Mond through his journey from backup, to inexperienced starter, to seasoned team leader is his self-confidence.
A year ago, Mond caught national attention when he declared himself the “best quarterback in the SEC” at the conference’s Media Days.
Though his decree didn’t ring true in 2019, he said he is even more confident in himself heading into this season. 
“Last year, my fear of failure at times was pretty high,” Mond said. “Coming back, throughout this whole COVID and quarantine, being able to sit back and evaluate myself and look myself in the mirror and figure out what I need to do to help my team and different ways I can lead and elevate this team. Where I’m at mentally, I don’t think I’ve been at this mindset in a really long time. I feel really good and I think this team is really feeding off my mentality right now.” 
While his outward confidence was present last year, Mond said he worked on internalizing it and learned to trust himself more during the offseason. 
“Last year, you can look at one play from each game, more in certain games, where certain throws are not very accurate because I didn’t trust the receiver, I didn’t trust myself on making that throw,” Mond said. “Taking this whole time off, just continuing to work on my craft, especially [in our first practice] I felt every ball was coming out of my hands exactly how I wanted it. I was playing with 100 percent conviction. That’s where I wanted to get to with my mentality.” 
Though he underwent a change in mindset over the offseason, Mond said his sentiments from last summer still apply. 
“Every time I step on the field, my mindset is I always think I’m the best player,” Mond said. “If I said I wasn’t, I don’t think I’d be doing the right thing giving my teammates confidence. I feel really confident going into this season, and I look forward to executing in Game 1 and then moving on from there.”
On Sept. 17, the SEC released its all-conference preseason teams, chosen by the league’s coaches. Mond made the Second Team list behind Florida’s Kyle Trask who was First Team quarterback. 
Even if he doesn’t end the season as the best signal caller in the conference, Mond could seal himself as the best quarterback in A&M football history. 
Mond is 633 yards away from setting the career passing yards record, currently holding third place. He is also third in career passing touchdowns with 52, just 15 shy of Jerrod Johnson’s 67, and second in single game passing touchdowns with six, just trailing Dustin Long’s seven from 2002.
Mond is fifth in single season passing yards and touchdowns, with 3,107 and 24 respectively. He is also eighth in A&M’s single game passing yards record with 430 against Clemson in 2018.
Mond said getting so close to the top of the record books is proof his hard work is paying off.
“It means a lot,” Mond said. “I’ve been through a lot while I’ve been here at A&M and I’ve set really high expectations for myself and being able to be so close and allowing myself in those record books is something that I wanted when I was a true freshman, something that I worked for. It’s going to be super exciting once that time comes. For me it’s a big deal, but I just want to take it one game at a time and I want to execute one game at a time as best I can.”
Mond is heading into his final year of eligibility with an offseason full of self-reflection behind him. 
Whether he ends the season as the best quarterback at A&M, in the SEC or in the nation, what’s important to Mond is that he simply does the best he can.
“Throughout quarantine, I looked over every single play that I ever ran my junior year, and I just wanted to evaluate myself and figure out what I could do better and figure out the best way to improve myself,” Mond said. 
“This year I’m on a mission not only for myself, but for my teammates. I want to be a great leader and elevate everybody and take them to higher levels.”

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