Before Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes became league MVP and led his team to its first Super Bowl berth in 50 years, he was a hot shot signal-caller for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Before that, he was a three-sport athlete with an impressive baseball pedigree, making him just as likely to play MLB as in the NFL.
So how did Mahomes go from multi-sport star to unquestioned leader of the Chiefs? Sporting News takes a look back at Mahomes’ route to the NFL, starting with his time at Whitehouse High School (Whitehouse, Texas), through his time at Texas Tech and, now, with the Chiefs.
Patrick Mahomes nearly quit football in high school
Patrick Mahomes II is the son of Pat Mahomes, an MLB pitching veteran of 11 years who played with the Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates. Growing up as the son of an MLB pitcher allowed Patrick Mahomes plenty of access to America’s Pastime. That was evident when Mahomes became a three-sport star at Whitehouse High School, where he excelled at baseball, football and basketball.
He was talented enough in baseball and football, however, that he had to decide which sport he’d be more likely to play professionally. His strong arm was equally impressive on the gridiron as it was on the diamond and, according to a report from Kansas City TV station WDAF, Mahomes leaned more toward playing baseball before his mother, Randi Mahomes, stepped in.
“Before his junior year in high school he came to me that summer wanting to quit football,” Randi Mahomes told WDAF, “but I just said you’re going to regret it if you quit.”
Two seasons later, Patrick Mahomes, then a high school senior, threw for 4,619 yards and 50 passing touchdowns while rushing for 948 yards and 15 scores.
He was equally impressive on the diamond, boasting a 93 mph fastball as a right-handed pitcher who batted better than .450 in the box. He also pitched a 16-strikeout no-hitter, out-pitching Mount Pleasant’s Michael Kopech, the No. 33 overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. Mahomes was named MaxPreps’ 2013-14 Male Athlete of the Year for his exploits.
That raised the question: What would Mahomes do once he graduated from high school?
Patrick Mahomes spurned the MLB Draft to play college football
Mahomes was talented enough a baseball player in high school that the Detroit Tigers decided to draft him in the 37th round of the 2014 draft. Mahomes, who had already committed to play college football at Texas Tech, did not sign.
Here is Mahomes’ MLB draft report coming out of high school, courtesy of Baseball America:
“Mahomes’ father of the same name spent parts of 11 seasons in the major leagues and was still pitching in independent ball until 2009. His son has a bigger, more physical frame at a listed 6-foot-2, 214 pounds and has shown a low-90s fastball on the mound while also showcasing excellent arm strength when he plays right field. Some evaluators like him better as a hitter who is an average runner with plus raw power from a raw offensive approach. Mahomes appears to prefer football, however, with good reason. He’s a quarterback committed to Texas Tech.”
That said, Mahomes’ baseball career didn’t end at Whitehouse High School (more on that later).
Patrick Mahomes had only three scholarship offers
It may seem crazy now, but Mahomes, according to 247Sports, had only three college football scholarship offers coming out of high school. He received his first offer from Texas Tech on Jan. 11, 2013. Three days later, he received his second offer from Rice. Oklahoma State was the final school to offer him in April of that year.
Mahomes, of course, ended up signing with the Red Raiders, signing and enrolling at Texas Tech in February 2014. 247Sports’ Composite rankings listed Mahomes as a three-star signee in the class of 2014. He was ranked 398th overall, 50th from the state of Texas and 22nd among pro-style quarterbacks (curious, considering he had already shown an ability to make plays with his legs as well as his arm).
So how did Mahomes fall through the cracks? He had the height (6-3), an incredible arm, impressive athletic pedigree and a pronounced dual-threat ability. Bleacher Report delved into that issue in 2018, naming several potential causes. Chief among them: Mahomes, a three-star athlete, didn’t devote all his attention to football, and therefore didn’t work with throwing coaches or attend football camps.
“I think they missed because he never had the coaching all those other guys had,” LaTroy Hawkins, Mahomes’ godfather and a former MLB pitcher, told BR. “He never went to those quarterback camps; he never did that.”
And so Mahomes committed to Texas Tech and then-coach Kliff Kingsbury, who, BR noted, wanted a mobile quarterback to run his offense.
Patrick Mahomes flopped in his one college pitching appearance
Despite signing a football scholarship at Texas Tech, Mahomes did pitch one game for Texas Tech’s baseball team — with disastrous results.
According to a report from The Athletic, Mahomes “had the yips” in his one mound appearance for Texas Tech, which came on Feb. 21, 2015, vs. Northern Illinois. Mahomes entered the game in the ninth inning with the Red Raiders up 6-0. His line in that game: 15 pitches, 11 balls, two walks, one hit batter, no outs. He faced three batters, all of whom scored, earning an ERA of 99.00.
Ryan Moseley, then a starting pitcher for Tech, remembered how the team supported Mahomes after he entered the dugout.
“He had a bunch of guys reassuring him: ‘Hey, it’s whatever — we’ll be fine, and this isn’t the last time you’ll get out there,'” Moseley told The Athletic. “Which it ended up being.”
Mahomes played in three games overall, going 0 for 2 at the plate.
Where did Patrick Mahomes play college football?
Texas Tech football stats, highlights
Mahomes’ highlights at Texas Tech look awfully similar to the ones he has compiled at Kansas City: an enticing mix of big armed-throws, pinpoint accuracy, running ability and evasiveness that left players confounded on how to defend him.
For his career, Mahomes completed 857 of 1,349 passes (63.5 percent) for 11,252 yards, 93 touchdowns and 29 interceptions, and a 152.0 quarterback rating. He also ran 308 times for 845 yards and 22 touchdowns. That includes a steller junior season in which Mahomes completed 388 of 591 passes (65.7 percent) for 5,052 yards, 41 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also rushed for 12 touchdowns.
That season, he led the FBS in passing yards, total yards (5,337) and touchdowns responsible for (53). He finished second in pass completions, 12th in completion percentage, 13th in adjusted yards per attempt (9.2) and 12th in passer efficiency rating (157.0)
Surprisingly, Mahomes’ next-level talent wasn’t enough to help Texas Tech in the record books: He went went 13-16 as a starter, including 0-6 against ranked teams. Texas Tech only had one winning season with him at the helm, going 7-6 in his sophomore season in 2015. That doesn’t change that he demonstrated the ability to play at the next level, though:
For his efforts, the Chiefs took Mahomes as the 10th player and second quarterback off the board.
The rest, as they say, is history.