Texas A&M record-setting senior quarterback Kellen Mond and right offensive guard Jared Hocker both declared for the NFL draft on Thursday rather than return for another season.
“It has been an incredible four years as an Aggie!” Mond tweeted. “I came to Texas A&M with goals of growing as a person, as a leader and as a football player. ... I am looking forward to the new chapters in my life and having the 12th Man behind me every step of the way!”
Mond went 31-13 as a starter, making him the second-winningest quarterback in school history behind Corey Pullig, who went 33-6-1 from 1992-95. Mond holds several school career passing records, including yards (9,661), touchdowns (71), completions (801), and attempts (1,358). He was a touchdown shy of setting the school record for most touchdowns responsible for, tying Heisman Trophy-winner Johnny Manziel with 93.
A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said after the 41-27 Orange Bowl victory over North Carolina on Saturday that Mond should be remembered as “one of the great quarterbacks in Texas A&M history; a guy who persevered through a lot of things, overcame a lot of things and willed his team.”
Mond is expected to be a mid-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft. He is rated the 11th-best quarterback prospect and 140th overall by cbssports.com. Clemson junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the overall top prospect. Ohio State junior Justin Fields (fourth overall), BYU junior Zach Wilson (sixth), North Dakota State sophomore Lance (12th), Alabama junior Mac Jones (25th), Florida senior Kyle Trask (40th), Georgia senior Jamie Newman (79th), Pittsburgh senior Kenny Pickett (86th), Iowa State junior Brock Purdy (125th) and Minnesota junior Tanner Morgan (135th) are rated ahead of Mond by cbssports.com.
Mond also failed to make Pro Football Focus’ top 10 quarterback prospects that included SMU senior Shane Buechele (eighth) and Cincinnati junior Desmond Ridder (ninth), leaving out Purdy and Morgan.
Hocker became the team’s fourth senior to declare for the NFL draft, joining left tackle Dan Moore Jr., center Ryan McCollum and Mond.
“Grateful for it all!” Hocker tweeted. “Here’s to the next and best chapter.”
Hocker started the last 23 games. The 6-foot-5, 325-pounder appeared in six games as a true freshman in 2017 then started the first eight games of the 2018 season before suffering a season-ending injury.
Hocker is the third of four seniors on the offensive line to announce their intentions, all opting to leave. Right tackle Carson Green is the lone senior in the offensive line yet to announce his intentions. He could return for a fifth season by taking advantage of the NCAA’s ruling that this season did not count toward a player’s eligibility.
A&M defensive tackle Jayden Peevy and wide receiver Camron Buckley are the only seniors thus far to take advantage of the extra year. Buckley missed the 2020 season and could have sought a medical redshirt if not for the NCAA granting all players an extra season.
Hocker just though it was time to leave.
“These last four years were only the beginning and I’m excited for what’s to come,” Hocker tweeted. “The greatest part of being an Aggie is knowing that I will be an Aggie for life and a part of a network that is unlike any other. I am grateful for the continued support and can only hope to continue to make you all proud! Maroon Goons for life!”
Hocker was part of one of the country’s best units, which was a finalist for the Joe Moore Award that goes to the nation’s best offensive line. A&M ranked third in the nation in time of possession and third-down conversions. A&M also ranked fifth in sacks allowed at only 0.7 per game.
A&M’s key seniors yet to announce their intentions beside Green include linebacker Buddy Johnson, cornerback Myles Jones and defensive end Micheal Clemons.
The deadline for players declaring for the NFL draft has yet to be determined. Expectations are that it will be Jan. 18, which is seven days after the national championship game. The NFL draft will be April 29-May 1 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Mond’s departure leaves redshirt freshman Zach Calzada and true freshman Haynes King as the only quarterbacks on A&M’s roster who have taken snaps. Calzada didn’t see action this year but played in three games in 2019, completing 12 of 24 passes for 133 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. King played against Alabama and South Carolina this season. He completed 2 of 4 passes for 59 yards with a touchdown and interception and had six carries for 43 yards.
The offensive line also will be short on experience, more so if Green declares for the NFL draft. He has made 40 career starts. Moore, Hocker and McCollum had combined for 93 starts. If Green leaves, the only lineman returning who has started a game would be All-America sophomore guard Kenyon Green, who has made 23 straight starts. True freshman Layden Robinson played in nine games this season, mostly at guard. Other than that, no backup lineman saw action in more than two games.
Last year’s starting linemen — Hocker, Moore, center Colton Prater, Carson Green and Kenyon Green started every game. This year’s starting five did the same with McCollum replacing Prater.