Vikings rookie Kellen Mond has been groomed to play quarterback since he was 2


Kellen Mond was 2 when her dad, Kevin Mond, started teaching her how to throw a Nerf soccer ball around the house. A few years later, the youngster got a real football. Let’s just say it took him a while to develop precision.

“We pitched everyday,” said Kevin Mond one summer morning at the family home. “So you can see the blinds are all folded and damaged all over the place. But I said, “We’ll fix them when he makes the NFL.” ”

It happened last spring when the Vikings made Mond, a Texas A&M star, a third-round pick. He’s now the No.2 quarterback on the active roster behind Kirk Cousins, although Minnesota also has veteran Sean Mannion on the practice squad.

Now that Mond, 22, has earned a spot in the NFL, there is actually a debate in the house. Kevin Mond seems ready to change the blinds, but his wife, Leticia, wants to keep things as they are.

“After he went into the draft I said, ‘We can now change the blinds,'” said Kevin Mond. “She said, ‘No, I don’t want to do that.’ But I’ll win this one. I plan to do it before Christmas.

As for Mond, he’s with his mom on this one.

“I like them a little battered,” Mond said, wishing they would stay to remind him of how far we’ve come.

Mond has been honing his soccer skills since the days when his hands were big enough to hold a ball. His father, a former San Antonio high school basketball star who chose to go into the military rather than play college ball, decided early on that his son’s sport should be soccer.

“I started preparing him to be a quarterback when I was 2 years old. I’m 6ft 5in so I knew he would be tall, but 6-4 in basketball isn’t big, “Kevin Mond said of his son, who is actually listed at 6-3. “So I was pretty athletic and I thought he could do some things from a football point of view. When he was 2, I had him throw balls from his knees to create torque in his body.

Kellen Mond has learned her lessons well. At the age of 9, he first played organized flag football, in 2008 with the Longhorns in the Stone Oak league’s Mays Family YMCA. He excelled right away and stayed with the Longhorns the following year when he first played football.

“When he was young he was able to see things on the field that a lot of kids couldn’t see,” said Chad Anderson, Mond coach with the Longhorns. “He always picked the receivers. He already had a good throwing movement. We didn’t have a great offensive line, but he was able to use his athleticism to get out of things even at a young age. He was a student of the game.

After his two seasons with the Longhorns, Mond was getting noticed. And the Bears, the league’s top team at the time, were looking for a quarterback.

In this league, players had to play offensive for one half and defense for the other. The Bears had a good quarterback but needed a second.

Kevin Mond was friendly with then Bears coach Donnie Laurence, who mentioned the opening. Kevin Mond presented the idea to his son and he decided to skip teams.

“I guess it was a bit controversial for the college kids,” Mond said. “But looking back, there was never any hard feelings. … The Bears needed another quarterback so I thought this was just a good opportunity for me to get changed. We were good. We have had very good coaches, especially for this age.

In that 2010 season, its first for the Bears, with Mond playing quarterback for one half and safety for the other half, the team finished 12-0, overtaking opposing teams 378-0. Laurence, who played football at Baylor and had been an assistant coach in high school, began teaching Mond some rather sophisticated offensive skills for this age.

“We were really passing the ball,” said Mason Laurence, son of Donnie, who was a receiver for the Bears and then played at the University of North Carolina. “We had a great playbook, hand signals. We wore the bracelets (with games on them). We were a bit on the upper level, per se. I think that’s why he wanted to come (to the Bears).

Mond also returned punters. Mason Laurence remembers a play in which the fast Mond, who raced on the track in his youth and in high school, “squeezed between defenders with his long legs” for a long touchdown run.

“I knew he was very good back then,” said Donnie Laurence. “He had a high IQ and skills. You can’t say I knew he was going to be an NFL player, but I certainly thought he would be a really good quarterback in high school.

Mond went on to become a top quarterback in high school in San Antonio. After playing at Bush Middle School, where he hasn’t lost a game in two years, and for the Reagan High School freshman team, Mond returned to the starting job as a 10th grader for his high school team, the Rattlers, in 2014..

“He was ahead of the game as a young quarterback,” said Lyndon Hamilton, who was then the defensive coordinator and is now Reagan’s head coach. “He was a real fleet of feet, and I remember being behind him in a 7v7 session once and hearing the wind cut when he threw the ball. I knew he was going to be special when I heard that “whoosh,” like a baseball pitcher hitting the plate. ”

In the sophomore, Mond threw for 1,745 yards with 20 touchdowns and just four interceptions, and rushed for 1,142 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Rattlers appeared to be state championship contenders, but Mond was hampered by a knee injury and they lost in the playoffs to finish 12-2.

As a junior, Mond threw for 1,991 yards with 26 touchdowns and four interceptions, and rushed for 898 yards and seven touchdowns. That season, the Rattlers suffered another tough playoff loss and finished 10-1.

“He was dominant,” said Kevin Mond. “But I saw some things and some flaws that I needed him to improve on. I didn’t want Kellen Mond to be just the best player in San Antonio. … If you’re San Antonio’s best player, what does that mean?

Kevin Mond wanted his son to test his skills against better competition, and the young quarterback agreed. So, in his final year, Mond transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., A private school filled with college applicants playing a national calendar.

This was the second time he had unexpectedly changed teams, and this one was really controversial. Kevin Mond said he received hate messages when the move was made, and his son received them as well.

“It was pretty crazy,” Kellen Mond said. “I received hate messages even from people I was on the team with. There was hatred because they didn’t really understand what IMG was and why I was leaving. … I wanted to play at a higher level. When you’re in your traditional high school, your teammates aren’t really in a certain state of mind that they want to go play in college or in the NFL…. I was trying to be around people who have similar goals. … I think it was perfect, and I’m in the NFL, so it definitely paid off.

After Mond made his decision to leave Reagan and enroll in IMG in January 2016, he said school officials would not allow him to conduct interviews with local media on the grounds of the. school. He said he received criticism from David Wetzel, who was Reagan’s head coach at the time.

“He criticized me (for leaving) but he ended up doing the same as me, so I never really had any respect for that,” Mond said of Wetzel leaving Reagan after the 2016 season. to become Baylor’s associate athletic director for football. reports. “I haven’t spoken to him since (leaving Reagan).”

Wetzel, who did not return messages requesting an interview, has been replaced by Hamilton. Mond said he has a good relationship with Hamilton, and the coach agreed with that.

Hamilton did not want to discuss Mond’s breakup with Wetzel. He acknowledged that “there was maybe a little bit of tension” when Mond left, but said he was happy that “everything went well for him”.

Hamilton said Mond returns to Reagan sometimes when he is in town to attend sporting events. Interestingly, there is nothing in the school trophy case paying homage to Mond even though he was one of the best players in school history.

At IMG Academy in 2016, Mond set school records in a single season with 19 touchdown passes and 17 rushing touchdowns to help the team move up to second in the national standings. He then moved on to Texas A&M and landed the entry-level position in 2017.

But Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin was fired after this season and replaced by Jimbo Fisher. Mond, competing with Nick Starkel, had to win the post again.

“They were both great players, but Kellen just had consistency and he took care of that every day with his work ethic, getting better and better,” Fisher said. “The players and the guys around him who followed him, they liked him. … He’s a very calm leader, but at times he can speak up when he needs to, and he’s a very intelligent leader.

Mond threw for 63 of his 71 career touchdowns and 8,286 of his 9,661 career yards in his three college seasons under Fisher. He’s led the Aggies to victories in each of their past three years, including 2020, when they ended a season shortened by the 9-1 pandemic and placed fourth nationally by The Associated Press. .

Since joining the Vikings everything has been a big deal for Mond. He took part in the spring drills, continued to hone his skills during a month-long hiatus, and overall has made progress since starting training camp.

Mond missed 10 days of camp when he tested positive for the coronavirus, and he looked rusty in his first two preseason games. But he took a good step in the third and final show, completing 16 of 23 passes for 196 yards with an interception, playing the second half of a 28-25 loss to Kansas City on August 27.

“He got better every day he came to the training ground,” Vikings offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak said. “It was a shame he must have missed some of those days because those would have been precious as well. But this is a guy that I was really impressed with with his work outside the building. It has the intangibles you are looking for. I love his studies and his work habits.

Mond has become known for his accuracy, including completing 63.3% of his passes last season for Texas A&M. He laughed when suggested to him how far he has come since the days when he dented the blinds.

“My dad always brags about how he got me started football when I was 2,” he said. “And I have definitely improved over the past 20 years.”


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