Spring wasn’t the only thing that began on Wednesday in College Station.
Under a cloud-filled sky, football practice was in full bloom as Texas A&M returned to the Coolidge Practice fields for the first time in 2019.
A year ago — Jimbo Fisher’s first spring football season with the Aggies — players and coaching practice alike were trying to get acquainted with a brand new system and coaching style.
Fisher — who led A&M to a 9-4 record with a seven-overtime victory over then-No. 8 LSU and a 52-13 win over NC State in the Gator Bowl to wrap up the 2018 season — said he was looking forward to beginning his second year knowing what to expect.
“At least you know the guys and they know us,” Fisher said. “They have a head start on what to do, where to line up and what goes on. So from that standpoint you’re comfortable. Now you’ve got to push to take those next steps.”
During the course of the Aggies’ practice on Wednesday, A&M officials announced that the opening game of the season against Texas State had been moved from Saturday, Aug. 31 to Thursday, Aug. 29.
For Fisher, having the game moved a few days earlier is beneficial for multiple reasons, including the addition of two extra days to prepare for A&M’s road game against reigning national champion Clemson.
“It’s a Thursday night game where there aren’t many games that night, so you get a lot of attention, TV coverage on the SEC network,” Fisher said. “[The season opener] would have probably been an earlier game on Saturday, so it helps to get people here and it allows you two more days of preparation to go play Clemson.”
Earlier this offseason, redshirt quarterback Nick Starkel announced his intentions to transfer from A&M and join SEC West rival Arkansas.
With Starkel’s departure — and for the first time in a few years — there will be no speculation as to who the starting quarterback will become the season opener on Aug. 29. Junior Kellen Mond is expected to be the Aggies’ QB1 heading into the fall.
Fisher said he looks for Mond to build off of his 2018 campaign but hopes that Mond maintains the ‘chip on his shoulder’ like he did last season while battling for the starting position.
“I hope [his approach] doesn’t change at all,” Fisher said. “I hope his confidence grows and execution grows. But I hope his desire to compete and play like a guy is behind you. You can never be content. Good enough can never be good enough.”
As for Mond, he believes that he is personally in a different but better position now than he was compared to a year ago. With several key players electing to enter the 2019 NFL Draft, Mond said he has transitioned into being a player some of his teammates look to as an example.
“I feel like my knowledge is there and still willing to grow,” Mond said. “My leadership role has had to take over this offseason. With Trayveon [Williams] gone, it’s me, Jhamon [Ausbon] and Justin Madubike on both sides of the ball to kind of lead and take us where we need to be.”
Mond said he knows being a leader has changed his approach going into his third career spring football season.
“Being able to have such a big impact, I feel like it’s going to help me grow and help my success on the field and kind of bring everybody up with me,” Mond said.
A&M will continue its spring football schedule and wrap the season up with the Spring Football Game scheduled for April 13 at 1 p.m., which will be televised on SEC Network.