COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond turned heads by throwing for a career-high 430 yards as the Aggies came just short of knocking off No. 2 Clemson.
Despite his strong performance Mond knows he must improve this week against Louisiana-Monroe before the Aggies begin SEC play at top-ranked Alabama on Sept. 22.
"Still have a lot of work to do with me and a bunch of other positions," he said. "Really looking forward to a new week to get better."
The expectations were high for Mond from the moment he arrived on campus. Some recruiting services named him the top dual-threat quarterback in the nation after a senior season at IMG Academy in Florida, where he threw for 1,936 yards and 20 touchdowns and ran for 775 yards and more 18 scores.
He is off to a great start this season after an up-and-down freshman year where he started eight games while Nick Starkel was injured but lost his job late in the season when Starkel returned. His offseason development and growth under new coach Jimbo Fisher helped him beat out Starkel to nab the starting job.
Mond's work has helped the Aggies average 629.5 yards of offense, which ranks third in the nation. The yards he put up against Clemson were the most by an Aggie against a top-five team since Johnny Manziel had 464 in a 49-42 loss to Alabama in 2013.
All his three touchdown passes last week came in the second half, the last one coming on a 14-yard throw to Kendrick Rogers that cut the deficit to 28-26 with 46 seconds left. Mond's 2-point conversion attempt was intercepted in the end zone.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney raved about what Mond did against his defense, which features two first-team All-Americans on the line and a third who was named to the second team.
"I was really impressed by their quarterback," he said. "When I watched him on tape, I said: 'This kid has a lot of moxie; he's going to be a tough out.' And he was ... he's a heck of a player."
Fisher said his quarterback has plenty of great qualities, but what he likes best is that he's always trying to get better. Each time he came off the field on Saturday he'd talk to the coaches about why he did what he did and why it was right or wrong. He discussed the different looks he was seeing and asked for advice on how to do things better on the next drive.
"His composure and his ability to process information I thought was outstanding as far as how he was seeing things and communicating with us on the sideline," Fisher said.
Mond has become a more vocal leader this season, but Fisher said he's been one of the best leaders on the team since he took over simply because of the way he conducts himself. Mond can often be found at the facility late at night studying film. Fisher said he's consistently one of the hardest workers at practice.
He also shines as an example to other players because of his ability to take coaching, even if it's unpleasant.
"He's messing up at practice and (I'll) chew (him) out and be getting on him and riding him and he just says: 'Yes sir, this is how we've got to do it,'" Fisher said. "Not throwing a fit, not getting mad. Taking coaching. Doing the things he's got to do of being an example for them so when it happens to you you need to do it, too."
When Mond is questioned about his work he often deflects such queries with talk about his weapons on offense. He raves about the work of junior running back Trayveon Williams and a young group of receivers led by sophomores Quartney Davis, Rogers and Camron Buckley.
"I think the really good part about this offense is ... just having that trust and that versatility in the offense keeps everybody together knowing that anybody can make a play on any down," Mond said.