ESPN recently named its top 25 “most important players in the college playoff chase,” and their No. 1 pick wasn’t anyone from perennial favorites Clemson and Alabama. Instead, the favorite came from Texas.
Now, junior quarterback Kellen Mond has the weight of the entire Texas A&M season on his shoulders. Jimbo Fisher has a lot of faith in his quarter, and the college football media took notice. But does he have what it takes to live up to his title?
The rise of Kellen Mond
Determining the fate of the college football playoffs seems like an impossible task for the third-year QB. However, as Mond suits up for the current season, he has displayed the ability to grow threw his first two seasons. The 20-year-old’s first season wasn’t anything to write home about; he threw eight touchdowns and six interceptions along with 1,375 yards.
Mond’s second year, however, was an improvement across the boards. He tripled his touchdown output and threw for 24 against only nine interceptions — a 26-point improvement in his QB rating at 135. The QB’s accuracy was better too, as he threw for 3,107 yards to blow his first-year numbers out of the water.
Mond’s 2019 season debut
The San Antonio native didn’t even play a full game against Texas State on August 29, 2019. But Mond threw 27 passes in the game, connecting on 19 of them. This was good enough for three touchdowns and one interception. These numbers may have been inflated had he played the whole game, too. He finished with 194 yards and a QB rating of 160.
The result was an absolute blowout against the Bobcats, with the Aggies winning 41-7. While Texas State isn’t a powerhouse, Mond’s accuracy and domination bode well for Texas A&M as they head into the 2019 season. However, even if he can keep it up, it will require an equal contribution from the rest of the squad.
Texas A&M’s season
If the Aggies can leave the regular season with a winning record, it won’t be because they took the easy path to victory. According to ESPN’s Power Football Index, the Aggies have the 11th toughest schedule in the nation. With Mond’s promising show, he will be needed if they want to continue their success.
Mond isn’t working alone, however. With the losses of rusher Trayveon Williams, tight end Jace Sternberger, and center Erik McCoy, the offensive unit must step up. From Quartney Davis to Camron Buckley and Jhamon Ausbon, they have a large, talented receiving core. This, plus Mond’s accuracy, could make the offense a nightmare for opponents.
The defense was a huge question mark heading into the season. After all, it was a largely new unit. Buddy Johnson may be able to continue his success as he leads the linebackers. Overall, the line seems large, talented, and ready to stop anyone in its path.
In his second year at Texas A&M, Jimbo Fisher must get the team to work together. They could make waves in the playoffs. Mond faces a lot of pressure. However, he’s shown he can make great strides in just three years. If his first game is any indication, we haven’t seen the best of him yet.