Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss

FILE

Kellen Mond has been the starting quarterback for No. 21 Texas A&M’s offense for the past two seasons, but his former backup is leading the Aggies’ opponent on Saturday.

Nick Starkel transferred from A&M to Arkansas at the beginning of the offseason, electing to use his final two years of eligibility with the Razorbacks as a graduate student.

Mond said he heard from social media when Starkel decided to leave the program, but there are no hard feelings between the two.

“I wish him the best of luck,” Mond said. “We were in the same locker room for two years. He’s been a great person to me.”

Last Saturday in Arkansas’s 31-24 loss to San Jose State, Starkel threw five interceptions, prompting him to throw away his famous Justin Bieber undershirt, according to a post on his Twitter.

“Bieber shirt has been ripped in half and thrown away,” Starkel wrote in a Twitter post Sept. 22. “No more nonsense. No more distractions. All I’m focusing on is this team and this season. Nothing else.”

Despite Starkel’s outing over the weekend, A&M sophomore linebacker Anthony Hines said he expects Starkel will be a threat for the Aggies.

“He’s a competitor,” Hines said. “I see him bouncing back. We just have to continue to do everything that we do scheme-wise. They’re a very good team and we’re going to approach them like any other week.”

Starkel was at first in a backup role for the Razorbacks as Ben Hicks was named the starter going into this season. After Arkansas fell to Ole Miss in Week 2, Arkansas head coach Chad Morris switched out his signal callers.

A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said he is not surprised Starkel earned the starting job with the Razorbacks.

“Nick’s a very good player, a great young man,” Fisher said. “I don’t know much about their quarterback situation, but it doesn’t surprise me. He’s very talented and he can play at a lot of places in this country. He was a very good player here.”

Mond expected to be facing his former teammate on Saturday, he said.

“I kind of had a feeling Nick would get in by game three or four,” Mond said. “He’s a talented player obviously. The other quarterback, he was there in the spring when Nick wasn’t, so I feel like he had respect for the team. That’s something Nick had to work his way up [to].”

Hines said the team’s familiarity with Starkel’s tendencies may give the Aggies an advantage going into Saturday’s matchup.

“It might play a factor,” Hines said. “Overall we’re just going to continue to lock into what our coaches tell us but we do know some of his tendencies and we’re going to try to add that to coach’s game plan.”

For Hines, Starkel is a familiar face from before the pair’s time at A&M.

“I’ve known him through recruiting before we were here, back when he was still committed to Oklahoma State,” Hines said. “Nick’s a good friend of mine.”

Mond and the Aggies will face Starkel at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m and will be televised on ESPN.

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