Next season the Texas A&M football team will be looking to replace Trevor Knight, their senior leader and starting quarterback in 2016. Who take over as the Aggies next signal caller?
The Wild Card – Kellen Mond
The four star dual threat quarterback out of the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida has been lighting up the scoreboard all season. At this point, he’s a relative long shot to land the job out of the gate. Then again so was Johnny Manziel, and look how that turned out.
Am I saying that we have Johnny 2.0 on our hands? No. Am I saying that Mond won’t become a player of that caliber? No, I’m not. Mond dazzled with his legs at the 2017 Under Armour All-America Game and reminded many Aggie fans of another shifty mobile quarterback from a few years back. He finished the game 5-13 passing for 90 yards with 84 yards rushing on 14 attempts.
It’s a bit far-fetched to bet on Mond to be a Heisman contender out of the gate, but Aggies have seen Sumlin’s offense work efficiently when a true dual threat quarterback is under center. Even if he doesn’t win the starting job in the spring, he would have a good chance of being next in line if the starter does struggle.
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With Hubenak on his last year and Starkel inexperienced the Aggies decided to pass on Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham. That speaks volumes on the confidence that the coaching staff has in the quarterback room as it is right now.
As things currently sit, I would project Mond as the starter in 2018 after taking a year to familiarize himself with the offense. That said, I’ve seen enough highlights to avoid betting against him.
Probability of Winning the Starting Job: 15%
Nov 12, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Jake Hubenak (10) looks for an open receiver during the first quarter against the Mississippi Rebels at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The Incumbent, Sort Of, Jake Hubenak
A senior next season, Hubenak is the only quarterback with actual collegiate experience on the roster. After the transfers of Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray, the former third string signal caller made his first career start in the Music City Bowl against Louisville.
Hubenank took a back seat to graduate transfer Trevor Knight this year. During the Mississippi State game an injury to Knight opened the door again for Hubenank who started the following two contests against Ole Miss and Texas-San Antonio.
He posted 884 yards passing in six appearances (two starts). He threw six touchdowns and two interceptions. His 58.7 completion percentage and 145.2 quarterback rating both outpaced Knight. He wasn’t spectacular, but he got the job done.
MORE: Who is Jake Hubenak
Starting Hubenank isn’t the “sexy” pick. He probably isn’t going to put the team on his back and win games by himself, but he’ll take care of the football and manage the offense. He lacks the speed and running ability of Knight, but given enough time this offseason I don’t expect Mazzone to have any trouble adapting the offense to his quarterback’s strengths.
Whoever starts at quarterback will have Christian Kirk and Trayveon Williams to depend on. Those two have big play potential whenever and wherever they touch the football. Since that’s the case, playing it safe at quarterback with Hubenak might not be the worst option.
Probability of Winning the Starting Job: 35%
The Man in Waiting – Nick Starkel
When Knight went down last season there were reported to be internal discussions with Sumlin and Starkel about the possibility of burning his redshirt. In the middle of the chaos It still seemed feasible that a Sugar Bowl bid was within reach.
If that chance remained on the table and Hubenak were to be injured, would Sumlin trust fan hero Connor McQueen to run the offense? In a pinch, maybe. But for a few games, that right would probably have fallen to Starkel.
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We could speculate “what-ifs” as long as we wanted to do so. The fact is, Starkel was the sixth rated pro style quarterback in Texas his senior year. He’s thought highly of by the coaching staff and will be in the mix for the starting job next season.
In high school Starkel threw for 7,836 yards and 77 touchdowns in four years – three with Southlake Carroll and his final year at Liberty Christian. He was an Elite 11 finalist and chose the Aggies over Oklahoma State and UCLA.
Bet on the Upside
At this point most fans are far enough removed from his recruitment that we can’t be sure what to expect from him next season. His arm strength would likely be an upgrade from Hubenak, but the lack of experience is a tough sell for a quarterback in the SEC.
Like Hubenak, Starkel prefers to operate from the pocket. The lack of mobility won’t help him. The most interesting factor concerning Starkel is the unknown upside he possesses.
At his floor, I see him being roughly equivalent to Hubenak. If that’s the case, why not get him experience as a redshirt sophomore with Hubenak in his final year of eligibility? If Starkel exceeds that floor his ceiling projects to be much higher.
The Aggies haven’t had a true pocket passer since Kyle Allen And before that… Mike Farris in 2001? Having someone who can sling it would be a lot of fun to watch. At this point, my money is on Starkel.
Probability of Winning the Starting Job: 50%
***Stats from Sports Reference, 247 Sports***
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