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Quarterback Kellen Mond and the Texas A&M Aggies closed last year's 9-4 season with a 52-13 whipping of North Carolina State in the Gator Bowl. / Texas A&M photo

TEXAS A&M

› Last season: 9-4 (5-3 SEC)

› 2019 opener: Aug. 29 vs. Texas State in College Station (8:30 EDT; SEC Network)

› Fun fact: Texas A&M has defeated every SEC team at least once since joining the league in 2012 except Georgia, which the Aggies have yet to play but will on Nov. 23 in Athens. The Aggies had lost all six meetings to LSU as an SEC member before last season’s seven-overtime triumph.

› Coming Friday: Vanderbilt

Texas A&M junior quarterback Kellen Mond may have uncovered what it will take for the Aggies to win big consistently in the Southeastern Conference.

The Aggies made an incredible splash during their debut SEC season in 2012, with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel leading them to a win at top-ranked Alabama and to a 41-13 thrashing of Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl to cap an 11-2 record. That remains Texas A&M's lone 10-win season since joining the league, as the Aggies have gone 9-4 twice, 8-5 three times and 7-6 once in the years since.

"The SEC, as we all know, has a lot of top dogs," Mond said at SEC Media Days, "and there are certain teams that may not be the best, but they can still beat you. You've got to bring your A-game every single week and stay focused for four quarters — and maybe even seven overtimes."

Texas A&M was 5-4 last season after wasting a 24-14 lead in a 28-24 loss at Auburn, but the Aggies closed with four straight triumphs. Their final game of the year was a 52-13 drubbing of North Carolina State in the Gator Bowl, but the most memorable win in that stretch was a 74-72 seven-overtime outlasting of LSU.

Such a game never again can be played in college football, as the rules have been adjusted to where teams have to alternate two-point-conversion attempts after the fourth overtime, but the nostalgic win resulted in an optimistic offseason in College Station.

"It gave us a little more confidence and a lot of momentum going into this upcoming season," Mond said. "We're a really confident team and have a lot of players coming back. We're looking for a phenomenal season this year."

After Manziel bypassed his final two years of eligibility following the 2013 season, the Aggies went on a quarterbacking carousel ride that included Kenny Hill, Kyle Allen, Trevor Knight, Jake Hubenak and Nick Starkel. Mond is from San Antonio but played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and he signed in 2016 as Rivals.com's top dual-threat quarterback nationally.

Mond has started 20 games the past two seasons, forcing Starkel to bolt to Arkansas as a graduate transfer, and is coming off a sophomore year in which he had 2,967 passing yards, 389 rushing yards and 29 total touchdowns.

Playing last year under new Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher, Mond seemed to be at his best in the biggest games. He threw for 430 yards, including 330 during the second half, in the 28-26 loss to Clemson, and he compiled 196 passing yards and 98 rushing yards in a 45-23 loss at Alabama.

In the LSU marathon, Mond tallied six passing touchdowns and a rushing score, and Fisher believes he has noticeably improved since.

"He understands he has to be a student of the game, and I think that's when we have the most fun," Fisher said. "He works his tail off. Nobody works any harder, and he also works in the film room, too. You know from the conversations you have with him and the questions he asks you, it's starting to be really fun.

"He is using all of the resources around him."

Trayveon Williams was Mond's top resource last year, but the league's leading rusher is now property of the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals. Jashaun Crorbin rushed for 346 yards and 5.7 yards per carry and is the favorite to replace Williams, and Mond should have a solid receiving corps headed by Kendrick Rogers, Quartney Davis and Jalen Preston.

Mond is planning to take on more leadership responsibilities and develop an even stronger bond with Fisher.

"During the LSU game, on that last play with one second left on the clock, he asked me what I wanted to run," Mond said. "The play I suggested was the play he had already told upstairs in the box. That kind of showed that we both know our go-to plays.

"I try to watch as much film as possible, and my knowledge of the game kind of speaks for itself."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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