COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- A Texas A&M spring football game record crowd turned out to usher in the unofficial on-field start of the Jimbo Fisher era. The Aggies and their new coach provided observers their first glance of what's ahead after Fisher's highly publicized offseason move to A&M from Florida State at Saturday's annual Maroon & White game at Kyle Field.
The 48,129 in attendance -- which surpassed Texas A&M's previous spring football game record of 45,212 in Johnny Manziel's sophomore year -- got extensive looks at the team's two competing quarterbacks, Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond, a physical defense and a potential breakout star in tight end Jace Sternberger as the White team defeated Maroon 30-24.
Mond, who started eight games last season, and Starkel, who started five, each had their moments as their competition for the starting job continued. Starkel finished with a game-high 373 passing yards and two touchdowns on 26-of-42 passing but threw an interception that led to a score. Mond was 19-of-26 passing for 180 yards and three touchdowns for the White team.
Fisher complimented both passers but said he isn't ready to tab a leader after 15 spring practices.
"There's no way that we can name a starter right yet," Fisher said. "It's too early ... because we're just really now getting into the offense, as far as the fine-tuning and the nuances of it that really makes it go, because they just haven't had enough time to learn it."
Sternberger, the star of Saturday's game with eight catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns, seems to have learned quickly.
A junior college transfer who was the first to commit to Fisher after his arrival at Texas A&M, Sternberger received loud cheers as Fisher's pro-style offense featured him early and often. Tight ends were rarely utilized in the past six seasons under former coach Kevin Sumlin, catching only 32 combined passes over that time. Fisher's tight ends at Florida State caught 181 passes in that span.
Sternberger was named team MVP of spring practice.
"He's a playmaker," Starkel said. "He's been making those plays every day ever since he got here."
Fisher praised the defense, which racked up seven combined sacks and came up with two turnovers. New defensive coordinator Mike Elko, formerly of Notre Dame, has a plethora of defensive tackles to work with, and it's a position Fisher said has been one of the Aggies' strengths this spring.
Overall, Fisher was pleased with the showing from his team.
"Some good things," he said. "There's a ton we've got to work on ... it was a great, competitive game, guys dealt with adversity and played pretty well. We'll look at the film and judge from there."