Patrick Mahomes was committed to Texas Tech, but not yet to football.
When the future NFL MVP graduated Whitehouse High School in Texas, ESPN didn’t list Mahomes among the top 300 football recruits in the country. 247 Sports listed him as the 47th best quarterback in the class.
His future could have belonged to baseball, where the pitcher/outfielder was long predicted to follow the footsteps of his father, Pat Mahomes Sr., who pitched 11 seasons in the majors, including two with the Mets.
Just before the 2014 MLB draft, then-Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury was concerned he could lose the intriguing quarterback prospect to a massive signing bonus.
“With his dad having that history of being a professional player, it does [concern me], but we’ll see how it shakes out.,” Kingsbury said then. “I know he wants to come to college, but you never know how that money’s going to be.”
Mahomes admitted as much. But when 10 rounds and two days passed without his hearing his name, Mahomes announced on Twitter his college football career would soon begin.
Many MLB teams were scared off by Mahomes’ passion for football, fearing he could eventually spurn them for the NFL.
“I’m not gonna lie, that played a little into Patrick,” Tigers scout Tim Grieve said. “If I give him this big bonus, is he gonna stick it out? I’m not saying Patrick was gonna quit, but it’s something you think about in the back of your mind that it’s a possibility. There was probably a figure you could have signed him for. It would’ve been a really high amount.
“If Patrick had told everybody, ‘I’m all-in on baseball,’ I think somebody probably takes him in the third-, fourth-round range. It’s possible he goes better than that. That’s the kind of abilities he has. He was a good prospect, a little rough around the edges because he was a kid who was focusing on another sport. Baseball was something that he liked doing. Football was his passion.”
So, Mahomes slid — all the way to the 37th round, when the Tigers grabbed him.
“You’re thinking, maybe this kid goes off to Texas Tech and football doesn’t work out,” Grieve said. “Maybe he keeps playing baseball and realizes baseball’s what he wants to do, so let’s be the club that starts building that relationship, get your foot in the door a little bit in case it’s something he wants to fall back on.”
Mahomes always had options.
The 24-year-old who has led the Chiefs to the Super Bowl didn’t start at quarterback until his junior season of high school, primarily playing safety his first two years. He was a three-sport star who eventually averaged 19 points and eight rebounds and was deemed talented enough to play college basketball.
He was a right-hander who could throw 95 mph or a strong curveball. He was a right fielder who intimidated countless base runners; a power hitter who struck fear in so many on the mound. He played every position but catcher.
As a senior, Mahomes pitched a no-hitter with 16 strikeouts in front of dozens of scouts, while winning a duel against future first-round pick Michael Kopech. The same day, he went 3-for-4 with a home run and a double.
“What you see as a football player, that talent, creativity, athleticism, that’s what he showed you,” Grieve said. “If you polled 30 teams, you’d probably get a split. Some liked him better as a pitcher. Some liked him as a position player.”
Mahomes appeared in three baseball games at Texas Tech. Twice, he was a pinch hitter. Once, he appeared out of the bullpen. He then turned all his focus to football. It was clear it would be his future.
“If he chose to focus on baseball, he would’ve been really good,” Grieve said. “Maybe not as good as he is at football, but he was gonna be successful.”
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