Texas A&M has been auditioning three quarterbacks all spring, attempting to find the right guy to help the Aggies free themselves from three consecutive years of an 8-5 funk.
On Saturday, all three played during A&M’s annual maroon-white scrimmage at Kyle Field.
Nick Starkel was the first quarterback in the game. He’s a redshirt freshman with a big arm.
Then it was Kellen Mond’s turn. He’s a true freshman who graduated from high school a semester early. Some recruiting services rated Mond as the top dual-threat quarterback prospect in the country.
The third quarterback was Jake Hubenak, who transferred to A&M from Blinn College in June 2015. Hubenak, who has started three games for the Aggies in two seasons, is the only one of the three who has even attempted a pass in a real game.
It’s unclear who might be the leader.
Hubenak completed 8 of 13 passes for 47 yards, with a 17-yard touchdown to Quartney Davis. Starkel was 10 of 27 for 174 yards. His longest throw was a 71-yarder to walk-on running back Kwame Etwi, who went unnoticed by the defense on a nicely executed wheel route.
Mond was four of 12 for 114 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Coach Kevin Sumlin, who will decide on the starter, didn’t talk to the media after the game. Instead, the captains — safety Armani Watts and receiver Christian Kirk — talked to reporters.
Sumlin would have been asked about receiver Kirk Merritt, who had been reinstated to the team after being accused of exposing himself to two tutors. News broke Friday about Merritt’s arrest, although the incidents happened in October.
Alan Cannon, an athletic department spokesman, said Sumlin was with recruits on official visits and had never intended to speak. About 30 minutes after the game, graduate transfer Christian Daimler announced his pledge to A&M. He’s an offensive lineman, a former three-star prospect, who played in three games in four years at Oklahoma.
About two hours after the game, A&M emailed quotes from Sumlin.
According to the email, Sumlin said of the quarterbacks: “You know we’ve seen them a little more than everyone else … (but) we tried to rotate them and give them similar-type opportunities with both lines. We really will have to look back at a couple of things, some situations where I talked to Kellen, I talked to Nick, and to Jake about play management, knowing where you are on the field. Kellen got out and threw one late down the middle on this side of the 50, putting our defense in a bad position. But you know, we’ve got to continue to practice. Summer is going to be big for them.”
Merritt had been practicing with the team all spring and had been in the mix for a starting spot. However, when news broke about his arrest, A&M said he would not play in the spring game.
On March 27, Merritt pleaded not guilty to two counts of indecent exposure. Two academic tutors alleged that Merritt, a transfer from Oregon, exposed himself to them on consecutive days.
Merritt was arrested Nov. 8 and suspended from the team. He was not eligible to play last fall under NCAA transfer rules. After notifications were sent to the Title IX office and the dean of student life, Merritt went through the school’s conduct process and was reinstated to the team Feb. 1. A&M didn’t publicly acknowledge Merritt’s situation until the Houston Chronicle broke the news about the charges.
Rick Davis, Merritt’s lawyer, told the Chronicle that his client suffered from a bad case of “jock itch” and had apologized to the two tutors. Davis said his client should be charged with disorderly conduct. Court records show that one woman said he’d pulled down his shorts and held himself. Another woman said he exposed and touched himself. Both women said Merritt was sitting within “arm’s reach” of them.