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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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Starkel takes step forward as starter

Freshman+quarterback+Nick+Starkel+threw+for+416+yards+in+the+game+against+New+Mexico.
Photo by Photo by Paul Burke

Freshman quarterback Nick Starkel threw for 416 yards in the game against New Mexico.

After a whirlwind start to his A&M football career, redshirt freshman Nick Starkel had the breakout performance Aggie fans had been searching for last Saturday night against New Mexico.
Starkel completed 21-of-30 passes for 416 yards and four touchdowns in the first half, and head coach Kevin Sumlin said he looked better after injury.
“After four or five weeks of practice, he’s really starting to get back,” Sumlin said at his Tuesday press conference. “You’re encouraged by last week: his game reps, his courage, his accuracy [showed improvement].”
Sumlin also said that though Starkel has suited up in previous games, he likely was not at full strength.
“I think some people get confused by being cleared and being ready to really play, and play at that position,” Sumlin said. “You can watch all the tape you want, but when you get out on the field and things happen in real time, it takes practice.”
Despite an outstanding first half, Starkel did not play in the second half, as Sumlin did not want to run the risk him getting injured.
If you’re up 48 points and he gets hurt, how do you answer that question to his family,” Sumlin said. “He’s battled back and done a lot and he’s getting better.”
One of the quarterbacks that entered the game in place of Starkel was senior Jake Hubenak, who had not seen action since suffering a shoulder injury in the Aggies second game against Nicholls State.
Through the lingering pain, Hubenak completed a 5-yard pass to Kendrick Rogers on his final play at Kyle Field.
“We just wanted to get Jake in the game,” Sumlin said. “It’s good to get him in there, he’s been a great team guy, he’s been great with these young guys.”
Perhaps no one was happier to see Hubenak complete his last throw than Damion Ratley, who played in the Texas High School All Star Game and at Blinn College with Hubenak before the duo came to A&M.
“I was one of the happiest guys on the sideline just seeing him hand the ball off. He was supposed to hand the ball off the whole time but then he got big and bad and tried to throw a slant,” Ratley said with a laugh. “He ended up completing it so his last play on the field was a completion and that’s big time for him.”
Still, Hubenak has served as a mentor for Starkel, helping him adjust to the collegiate level especially when both of them were injured.
“He’s definitely been a model for these young quarterbacks to look up to,” Ratley said.
Starkel’s playful personality also helped him maintain a positive attitude despite his lingering injury. His light-hearted personality showed as he donned a cutoff Justin Bieber shirt in warmups before last Saturday’s game.
Ratley was not surprised by Starkel’s outfit choice due to his unorthodox personality.
“There ain’t no telling what that kid likes, he’s a character,” Ratley said. “There are different personalities and then there are different, different personalities. His is like a different, different personality.”
Starkel will likely be called to do something he hasn’t done the entire season in Saturday’s game against Ole Miss: play a complete game.
“After three or four weeks of practice, he’s starting to get back,” Sumlin said. “Hopefully he’ll be able to improve on that this week.”

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