Kellen Mond can tell you what it means to be a dual-threat quarterback in the modern era, and he does it perfectly because he serves as the very embodiment of its definition.
He learned it early, when he was a high school quarterback at IMG Academy, taking on a dominant Grayson High School in Georgia.
Mond’s former coach, Kevin Wright, recalls it like it was yesterday.
“We played Grayson High School in Georgia, and Kellen was put into a difficult situation. He was our running game,” he said. “He was our passing game. We played Kellen back there with just the tight end, and Kellen ended up running the ball roughly 30 times. We had to give him an IV after the game. He was as exhausted after that game as any guy I have ever seen.”
What happened during that game hasn’t left Mond’s mind. It probably never will.
“I ran the ball 25, 30 times maybe that game,” he said. “I even think I threw up after the bus or something like that because I was so dehydrated. It was definitely rough.”
The pure pocket-passer has become something of a dinosaur in recent times, and some type of mobility is highly regarded in the NFL. There’s something electric about watching Mond get around defenders, finding lanes, and making his way to the end zone under pressure and in unlikely situations.
“I think dual-threats are used in multiple different ways, and I think even the word ‘dual-threat’ is even getting skewed now and starting to lean more toward running quarterbacks, but I think in the league, athleticism is something that you need,” Mond said. “Whether that’s pocket movement or just being able to slide or move your body efficiently to get the ball out of your hands or that’s running for first downs and continuing to move the chains. So, being able to pass and run and be a threat in the pocket is something I take a lot of pride in.”
Wright believes a lot of the things Mond excelled at in high school carried over into college.
“He’s always had a lot of physical ability. He has very good arm strength, can throw the deep ball with touch. It’s something that was very evident in high school. He came from an RPO-type system that utilized him a lot. He had to make decisions. When the decision was to pull the ball based on what he was able to see, he was very accurate throwing the ball vertically down the field. That’s one of his greatest strengths. Another strength is his ability to extend plays. When the pocket may break down, he can keep his eyes down the field and complete passes.”
Outside of his physical gifts, anyone who has watched and listened to Mond knows he’s a fearless leader. He didn’t lack confidence when he said he thought he could be the best quarterback in the SEC during his time at Texas A&M.
But he wasn’t always that way.
Wright describes him as someone who may have come off quiet—almost to the point of something that could be interpreted as shyness—during the early stages of his career.
But that doesn’t mean that Mond, who has actively advocated for social justice, doesn’t have thoughts of his own or can’t help be a force for equality like he was at Texas A&M.
“He’s a very deep thinker, and he’s got a lot of thoughts on things outside of football,” Wright said. “He’s a well-rounded guy. Normally, he’s quiet. People were critical of him for that at times. To be a guy out there talking all the time isn’t something that comes naturally to him, and I think coach Fisher has done a great job with him in that realm.”
Mond acknowledges he’s been reserved in the past, but doesn’t want anyone to get that twisted. He’s as self-assured as a quarterback can come—but leadership isn’t a trait that always comes naturally, and it’s one he’s brushed up on.
“It’s becoming more comfortable with people and trying to understand my role, becoming more self-aware of what leadership is,” Mond said. “Even just looking back at what I am now. I wouldn’t say the leader that I was at IMG was even leadership. So, I feel like I’ve learned so much about leadership from people around me—coaches and players. I still feel like I have so much more room to grow. That’s the good part about life.”
There’s no doubt Mond is talented and can put the team on his back when the circumstances call for it, but there’s also no denying the struggles with inconsistency Mond has been knocked for so many times.
Inaccuracy and touchdown-to-interception ratio problems have plagued him more than once. He’s taken his fair share of criticism from fans and media alike for his shortcomings in this category, too.
But 2020 was a redemption year for Mond, who some had already scrapped as never having the potential to succeed in the NFL much earlier on in his college career.
One of the most notable victories for the Aggies was the 20-7 win over LSU after they had suffered a gruesome 50-7 loss to the team in the previous year.
“It was definitely a good feeling (to get the win),” Mond said. “ It was definitely a tough loss that we took the year before. I came back pretty much a whole different person and I felt great at where I was mentally. I knew I was destined to have a great season.”
Mond headed into that game with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 16-to-2, miles better than the nine-to-five ratio he had in as many games the previous year—a striking sign of improvement and testament to his dedication to self-improvement.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Mond, and how he can capitalize on this recently found upward swing. Those who know him best, like Wright, couldn’t be more optimistic.
“Yeah, it’s been an up and down road for Kellen at times. But he only gets better and better. He did that in high school, and he’s shown that he’s done it in college too.”