As training camp starts A&M’s starting quarterback race is dead heat


New Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher acknowledged the obvious Thursday as the Aggies opened preseason training camp.

He needs to find a starting quarterback. He has no idea who it will be when A&M kicks off the season at home, Aug. 30, against Northwestern State.

But with four weeks to go before the season starts, there’s every reason to be in a hurry to pick a top guy, whether it’s Nick Starkel or Kellen Mond.

The season opener should be a bench-clearing, lopsided win. However, A&M faces Clemson at home in week two. The Tigers were ranked No. 2 nationally in Thursday’s preseason coaches poll. And in week four, A&M is set to play top-ranked and defending national champion Alabama.

Fisher has established no time table. His first scrimmage — the first major test of preseason — will be in 10 days.

“You’ll know when you know,” Fisher said.

“They’re all even,” Fisher said. “It’s a dead even race. They started with a new offense that neither one of them had ever seen before. Both guys have started about the same number of games and did about the same thing. Both guys are very good players.”

Fisher said the two quarterbacks are splitting time evenly with the first team.

In the spring game last April, Starkel started, but Fisher kept rotating Starkel with Mond late in the scrimmage. They then had the summer to hone their skills during seven-on-seven drills. Connor Blumrick, who redshirted last year, would be third team on the depth chart. Fisher said he’s a “little bit behind” Starkel and Mond.

Starkel began and ended last fall as the starting quarterback. But he broke his ankle in the season opener and didn’t return to action until November. He finished the season with a flourish, throwing for 499 yards in a losing effort at the Belk Bowl.

Mond, then a true freshman, filled in for Starkel, starting eight games. He struggled in the passing game and was benched when Starkel became healthy.

Now, the two have to learn Fisher’s pro-style offense. There will be more plays under center. The tight end will be more involved in the game plan. There will be a featured back. The two quarterbacks were recruited to run a more up tempo offense used by then coach Kevin Sumlin.

Fisher said he’ll let the team decide who the starter will be.

They won’t be voting. Rather, Fisher will study their collective reaction to Starkel or Mond.

“They’ve got to win the team,” Fisher said, “to get the team to have confidence in them. … They have to play with great consistency, make plays with the ball and take care of it when they need to.

“There’s no one thing. You’ll know. You can tell by the players. You can tell by the ball movement, the execution down the field, the overall ability of doing things.

Although he must decide on a starter, Fisher isn’t ruling out using both of them in games, “if it was best for our team to win.”



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