To say that IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., was good to Texas A&M in the 2017 recruiting cycle would be an understatement. IMG had a lot of talent during its undefeated 2016 campaign and a lot of that talent moved on to College Station.
“We have three true freshmen (at A&M) that played for us last year that are all playing really important roles on A&M’s offense this year, which is amazing, really,” IMG coach Kevin Wright told GN.
One of those is A&M starting quarterback Kellen Mond.
“When he got there in January, they talked about him having an opportunity to compete, so we knew that he would be in the mix,” Wright said. “He came back to campus in May, and in talking to their coaches, I knew he was progressing well and that they were going to try and find some way to get him on the field.”
Mond, who is from San Antonio, began the season No. 2 on the depth chart, but became the starter when Nick Starkel was injured in the opener. Mond has started the past four games and has thrown for 808 yards and six touchdowns. He also has rushed for 252 yards and another score, and is 4-0 as the starter headed into Saturday’s home game with top-ranked Alabama.
“A lot of the things I’ve seen him do on Saturdays are very similar from a schematic standpoint, and his execution is very similar to what we did with him last year at IMG,” Wright said. “I’m not really surprised by his early success because he’s very comfortable throwing the deep ball and he’s very comfortable running the football when he has to, and that’s a dangerous combination.”
Another IMG alum producing as a true freshman for A&M is wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon, who has 18 catches for 199 yards and one touchdown. He is second on the team in receptions and receiving yards.
“Jhamon is very transparent and he doesn’t pull punches,” Wright said. “He tells you exactly how he feels, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. He’s a smart kid, and I think when he made the decision to come to IMG, it was to get better and prepare himself so he could go to A&M in January and compete for a starting job and ultimately be prepared to play as a true freshman.”
Wright says Mond and Ausbon, who is from Houston, had good chemistry last season at IMG.
There’s one other IMG product playing as a true freshman for the Aggies.
“The other guy that nobody talks about is Robert Congel, an offensive lineman,” Wright said. “He is an
unheralded guy that started for us with both Kellen and Jhamon last season. He was a preferred walk-on at A&M in January and now he has worked his way into the rotation at both center and guard.”
Congel originally is from the Denver area.
Mond is the third former IMG quarterback to play early in college.
“This is only the fifth year we have had a high school football team,” Wright said, “so you’re just really now seeing a lot of guys that come through the program. Kellen most notably this year, but also Shea Patterson, who started the last three games as a true freshman at Ole Miss, and Deondre Francois at Florida State, who started early in his college career. So, the last three quarterbacks we have had are playing big-time, Power Five college football.
“We are proud of them and it is something that we pride ourselves in. I tell everybody what our kids go through on a daily basis, academically, athletically and the time demands, it’s tough. They have to give up so much because it’s a boarding school and they are away from home. But when you see the success that kids like Kellen and Jhamon are having, it is a source of pride for all of us that have been involved in the process.”
Linebacker Santino Marchiol, who also played at IMG last season, seems likely to redshirt this season for A&M. Marchiol also is from the Denver area.
RELATED: More recruiting news from GN
(You can follow Ryan Green on Twitter @RyanGreenGN)
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