There’s a popular saying around College Station: Highway 6 runs both ways. While recent quarterbacks put the city in the rearview for destinations such as Houston and Oklahoma, others have opted to do a bit more sightseeing before finding a place to call home.
As for Nick Starkel, his home is with the 12th Man. A member of the Aggies’ 2016 signing class, the pro-style quarterback will be en route to Texas A&M shortly after graduating from Liberty Christian (Argyle, TX) on May 27. Rather than fall victim to the competition on the depth chart, he’s ready to thrive on it.
“I’ve never been afraid of competition,” Starkel told SEC Country. “I had to win a spot over a senior during my junior year in high school.” That senior was Drew Hunnicutt, who is now a wide receiver at Dartmouth. “Honestly I think the reason I got as good as I did my junior year was because I had (Hunnicutt) pushing me and I was pushing against him. We made each other a lot better players.”
Plenty of players on the roster are ready to push Starkel when he arrives to campus, and he disagrees with the narrative that suggests A&M has no more quarterbacks.
“They totally do,” said the 6-foot-4, 186 pounder. “They are all hungry for competition and want that spot.”
Among the QB’s on the depth chart are Trevor Knight and Jake Hubenak. Knight joined the team from Oklahoma as a graduate transfer and has already been named starter for the 2016 season opener against UCLA. Hubenak transferred in for the 2015 season, ultimately starting in Texas A&M’s bowl game against Louisville, where he threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns.
Starkel laughed as he described his relationship with the duo of upperclassmen. “They definitely make sure I know my place as a freshman on campus,” said Starkel. “Our group message, I have to ask permission to talk to them because I’m a freshman. It’s all fun and games. They are really excited for me to get down there so they can start working with me.”
He’s not coming to work for a year and transfer, either. In a conversation with defensive end Myles Garrett at A&M’s Friday Night Lights scrimmage, the junior asked Starkel, “You’re not going to bounce like the other ones did?”
“No,” replied Starkel. “That’s not me. I’m coming here to compete.”
Starkel’s commitment to the Aggies is real, but that wasn’t always the case. A&M fans have to give partial thanks to former USC-turned-Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler for helping to steer Starkel into what he felt like was the right spot for him.
During the time Starkel was going through the decommitment process at Oklahoma State, he spoke with Kessler to tell him he wasn’t sure about his commitment to the Cowboys. The advice he received from the Trojans quarterback was, “A lot of times, you don’t want it to be about you. You want it to be about the team. This part of the process, you have to be selfish. It’s your decision and you need to make the best decision you can.
“He told me go to a school you think you’d regret the whole time if you didn’t go. I chose A&M and I don’t regret that at all. It’s by far the best place I could have gone.”