HOOVER, Ala. — The ongoing quarterback competition in College Station doesn’t look to be nearing a conclusion any time soon. That being said, true freshman candidate Kellen Mond appears to have taken an important step in earning the job — he’s impressed Texas A&M’s All-American candidate Christian Kirk.

During the spring, Mond competed with senior Jake Hubenak and redshirt freshman Nick Starkel for the right to earn the starting job. Unlike the previous spring, when head coach Kevin Sumlin named Trevor Knight the team’s starter immediately following the camp’s conclusion, A&M is waiting to name its starting quarterback.

Enrolling early appears to have paid off for Mond, as Kirk spoke very highly of the young signal caller during the third day of SEC Media Days. The team’s junior receiver even went so far as to call the freshman quarterback a leader entering his first fall in College Station.

“He’s a grinder, he works really, really hard. Always at the top of the list of our top performers lists when we workout,” Kirk said. “During (skeleton drills) he takes it seriously. Sometimes it’s a little hard for guys to focus especially when you don’t have coaches out there but he’s a leader out there, making sure every guy is in the right place, making sure guys are in the right place. He’s progressing on his reads, he’s making sure we are getting our timing down. He’s doing a great job, really excited about him. Excited to see what steps he takes in fall camp.”

Rated as the nation’s No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the nation coming out of high school, it’s no surprise Mond has flashed elite athleticism during his short time with the program. Junior offensive lineman Koda Martin has thus far been ‘amazed’ by the talents of the young player.

“He’s an athlete, definitely a dual-threat guy,” Martin said. “We’ll be out there running sprints and it’s amazing to see him run, he’s really a heck of an athlete, good quarterback, too.”

Mond’s athleticism has been the trait that has most stuck out to his coach, as well.

“Really a phenomenal athlete, one of the top guys in the country coming out,” Sumlin said.

With Kirk potentially entering his last season playing at the collegiate level, forming a relationship with the team’s most explosive player could very well be the difference between winning the job. Judging by his answer when asked what Kirk potentially brings to the offense, it’s easy to see a tight bond already being formed between Mond and the veteran receiver.

“He’s really smart, that’s one thing that stands out,” Kirk said. “He makes the right reads, he gives what the defense gives him. He doesn’t always just try to throw the deep ball or make the big time play. He’ll check it down to the running back or throw a hitch. He’s decisive on his reads, but he also brings that athletic side to it. He’s a lot faster than people think he is, he’s smooth.

“I’m just really excited to see how he develops in fall camp and see him grow.”