At Elite 11 Finals in June, quarterback Kellen Mond said he thought he had gotten a lot better since moving from San Antonio to IMG Academy in Florida.
The results in his first three games with the second-ranked Ascenders have only backed up that statement.
In victories against then-No. 2 Grayson (Loganville, Ga.), No. 14 Centennial (Corona, Calif.) and Booker T. Washington (Tulsa), Mond has accounted for 12 touchdowns (eight passing, four rushing). He has thrown for 730 yards and leads the team in rushing with 288 yards.
In a thrilling 50-49 victory against Centennial, Mond led IMG down the field in the final minute for a score with 12 seconds remaining and the Ascenders won the game with a two-point conversion. Mond set the team record for offensive yardage with more than 500 and became the first IMG quarterback to throw for 300 yards and crossed the 400-yard mark in the victory.
Now, Mond and IMG plays its first home game of the season, taking on No. 18 St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.).
Mond committed to Texas A&M over Auburn after he decommitted from Baylor in the wake of Art Briles’ departure. Mond says he continues to hear from Auburn, but the only official visit he is planning is Oct. 8 for the Aggies game against Tennessee.
USA TODAY High School Sports caught up with Mond this week to talk about the season so far, life at IMG Academy and what’s he working on to get ready for college.
Q: How is playing at IMG been a change from what you were used to playing football in Texas?
A: Playing with four- and five-star caliber guys is the big difference. The best competition that I’m facing is every day in practice, even more than playing some of the top teams in the country. We’ve got great coaching with guys with college and NFL experience who have been around the game for a long time.
Q: The team is 3-0 and putting up quite a few points. With so many guys coming in and not having grown up together, has it come together as you anticipated?
A: It was kind of expected. I think our defense started better than our offense would have liked to. Offensively, it took time to build more chemistry even though we had spring ball. We’re still building a team. I think we’re on the right path and we’re going to keep getting better as a team.
Q: Away from football, what’s been the biggest adjustment for you, having moved to Florida away from your family?
A: We’re on just like a college schedule. You’re going to classes for the first half of the day and the rest of the day is football — practice, meetings, mental conditioning with a bunch of different coaches. It’s hectic here. Every day is a long day, most are 12-hour days and you need to fit in your homework and other stuff. But it’s a huge advantage to be here, getting (a college-type experience) a year early.
Q: IMG has logged a lot of miles so far, but you get a chance to play your first regular-season game at home. Is this something you’ve been waiting for?
A: It’s finally a home game. It was fun traveling to go up to Georgia to play Grayson and then a across the country for Centennial and over to Louisiana last week, but a lot of my teammates and me have been looking forward to a home game. The travel is taxing on your body and missing school isn’t all that much fun because you have to make up a ton of work. We’re going to spend this week getting prepared for a really good opponent and that will be the main focus.
Q: What is the biggest thing you are hoping to work on before you get to Texas A&M?
A: I’m just trying to get better with my footwork. I’ve gotten better since I’ve been here. With the way I’m throwing the ball, I’m even more accurate than when I was back home in San Antonio. Being a dual-threat guy, I can hurt people by being able to run and people have to care about that when they’re playing me, but I think I need to get better in the passing game.
I don’t think at the next level I’m going to be asked to run that much. There might be a few designed runs, but I’m going to need to make plays in the pocket under pressure. I feel like my role in college is going to be as a pocket passer who has ability to run and make plays.