Texas Tech vs. Texas

Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II prepares to pass the ball during an offensive play at the Red Raiders' game against Texas on Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium.

With former Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II set to start in Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, Tech Athletics Director of Communications Matt Dowdy reflected on his time with the superstar.

When Dowdy first met Mahomes, he said the confidence Mahomes had was glaring. Whether Mahomes was asked to do something on the field or media related, he was always comfortable with the situation.

“He had the mentality of someone who grew up in a major league clubhouse. The spotlight was never too big for him,” Dowdy said. “I just remember early on in his career, just the confidence and that type of personality he had.”

Mahomes is most known for his work on the football field, being the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player and AP Offensive Player of the Year. What some may not know is he used to also play baseball for Tech.

In 2015, Mahomes was a member of both the football and baseball team. To be able to play both sports, the football team worked its spring practices around the baseball team’s schedule as he was in competition to be the Red Raiders’ starting quarterback.

“I remember our coaches raving before he was even on the team and when he was on the team about the talent he had,” Dowdy said. “Very talented, could play multiple positions for you. He could probably play in the outfield. I think they looked at him for third base. He could pitch. I mean he had a great arm. He had a great feel for the game. He had been around the game his whole life.”

Despite being the son of a former MLB player, Mahomes and his family weighed out the superstar’s options in 2016. He then decided to dedicate his time solely to the football team.

“The funny thing is, in 2016 we ended up going to Omaha for the second time in program history,” Dowdy said. “Pat very well could have been on that team that year and made them  probably even better. But he ultimately made a pretty wise decision between him, his family and our baseball staff. I remember coach Tadlock saying in a quote we put in a press release, ‘We completely get it.’ That’s the type of person coach Tadlock is too.”

The decision seemed right for Mahomes as he threw for a career-high 5,052 yards and 41 touchdowns in his 2016 season, according to sports-reference.com. Mahomes ranked first in the NCAA with his passing yard total and touchdowns responsible for with 53. His 2016 campaign led to him being drafted as the 10th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

One of Dowdy’s favorite memories of Mahomes was after Tech’s game against Oklahoma when the junior quarterback broke the NCAA record for most passing yards in a single game with 734. During the game, Mahomes was hurt in some sort of fashion and continued to play through the second half, Dowdy said.

As a part of Dowdy’s responsibility as the football contact, he was responsible for getting together the head coach and a couple of players for a postgame press conference. While walking with former head coach Kliff Kingsbury to the press conference, Dowdy was informed that Mahomes was hurt and was not sure if he would make it to speak with the media.

Once Kingsbury was done speaking, Dowdy went in the hallway and Mahomes was there waiting. When Dowdy told Mahomes he thought he was going to get looked at by the training staff, the quarterback told him that he wanted the do the press conference and then he would get checked out.

“This is a guy that had all the attention in the world and probably had a lot of family that wanted to see him, probably was hurting a little bit too,” Dowdy said. “He knew it was an obligation he needed to do that night. I think his words were ‘All the records in the world, we should have won the game.’ He was a very competitive guy. That’s what I always remember about him, just toughness and how he was there. I can’t say enough good words about him.”

This was just one example of Mahomes’ personality.  

“There’s no one that was in the football training facility since the time I was here that’s going to say they didn’t like Pat,” Dowdy said. “He was a guy everyone liked, he had a great personality, his teammates always loved him, the coaching staff always loved him, he was respectful. I mean, he’s just a good person. That’s just who Pat is and it’s hard not to like a guy like that.”

Despite seeing success and fame in the NFL, Mahomes has not forgotten where he came from. He was seen at the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four, a baseball series and the football game against Baylor in 2018 to support the Red Raiders. Dowdy said Mahomes is one of the best former student-athletes at engaging with his alma mater on social media. 

Mahomes was named the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs as they are set to play the San Francisco 49ers. On Sunday, he will be the first starting quarterback in Super Bowl history to attend a university in Texas. With Mahomes playing in the big game, it marks the 11th consecutive year a Red Raider has made an appearance in the Super Bowl, whether it has been a player or coach.

“We always knew that he had a bright future ahead of him,” Dowdy said. “The fact that he is an NFL MVP and is playing in the Super Bowl? No, that doesn’t surprise me too much.”


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