Lamar Jackson has been lighting up the college football world in the first few weeks, scoring 18 TDs during Louisville’s first 3 games. However, what if I told you that someone else currently has 18 TDs over the same period? What if I told you that Jackson does not lead the NCAA in total offense, total passing yards or passing yards per game? If you have read my weekly Heisman rankings over the first few weeks of the season, you would’ve seen that the name Patrick Mahomes has been absent altogether. Ladies and gentlemen, from Texas Tech University, the forgotten Heisman candidate.
Let’s look at the statistics. As I mentioned, Mahomes leads the NCAA in total offense, producing 543.7 yards per game and scored a total of 18 touchdowns, tied in first with Heisman front runner Lamar Jackson. He’s thrown for 1,493 yards over 3 games – first in the NCAA and is on pace to set the FBS record for most passing yards in a season, which is held by former Texas Tech quarterback B.J. Symons (5,833 yards). Mahomes is 2nd in QBR (quarterback rating) behind Jackson. He’s only thrown 2 interceptions. Jackson has only thrown 2 interceptions. The similarities are uncanny. One difference is that while Jackson has made exciting plays with his feet, scoring 10 rushing touchdowns, Mahomes has used his cannon arm from his baseball background to account for 14 passing touchdowns.
Texas Tech has produced a great list of quarterbacks in it’s time. At one point, they had Baker Mayfield (current starting quarterback at Oklahoma) and Davis Webb (current starting quarterback at Cal) competing for the starting job. As previously mentioned, the FBS passing yards season record is held by a former Texas Tech quarterback. But with all due respect to these signal-callers, none have the athletic ability and arm strength that Patrick Mahomes possesses. Mahomes has the potential to be a starting quarterback at the next level and in the long term, possibly be even better than Lamar Jackson. One thing stopping him could be his decision to play professional baseball instead. He is the son of former MLB player Pat Mahomes and as well as being the starting quarterback on the football team, Mahomes is also a pitcher and outfielder for the Red Raiders’ baseball team. He was selected in the 37th round of the 2014 MLB draft by the Detroit Tigers, but didn’t sign due to his commitment to Texas Tech. His decision about which sport he plays is up the air, but it would personally be great to see him playing in the NFL on Sundays.
Based on individual stats alone he should be leading the Heisman race, so why has Patrick Mahomes never appeared in my Heisman rankings? It’s simple: Texas Tech.
Part of the criteria for Heisman candidates is the ability to lead teams to victory. Mahomes certainly ticks that box, but his teammates haven’t done him any favours. Football is not a one-man game. Unless you’re Lebron James in the 2007 NBA playoffs, you shouldn’t be able to single-handedly carry a team on your back. 2012 Heisman winner Johnny Manziel had Mike Evans. 2013 winner Jameis Winston had Kelvin Benjamin and Rashad Greene. Patrick Mahomes does not have a defence. Texas Tech is currently 2-1 this season, scoring over 50 points in each game. That’s Mahomes’ job done. Give him the Heisman already!
Not so fast.
Their lone loss was against Arizona State 68-55, where they allowed Sun Devils’ running back Kalen Ballage to score 8 TDs on his own. Their Week 3 win over Louisiana Tech was by a scoreline of 59-45. In order for Mahomes to get an invitation to New York, he needs to lead the Red Raiders to double-digit wins. With the below-average defense Texas Tech has, it’s hard to see him even being considered.
Another reason I didn’t rank him is because he’s had to work with a weaker resume over the first three weeks. While Lamar Jackson has beaten Florida State and J.T Barrett has defeated Oklahoma, Mahomes has defeated Stephen F. Austin. Not exactly the line of work you want people to look at.
From here on out, Texas Tech’s schedule doesn’t offer much hope. As a part of the Big 12 (a.k.a the conference that doesn’t play defense), the Raiders have a 4-game stand, starting October 21st, against Oklahoma, TCU, Texas and Oklahoma State, who have all been ranked at some point this season. They also have Baylor in the last game of the season. If Mahomes can somehow orchestrate an 8-4 or 9-3 season, I think he’ll be well on his way to New York. Over the past decade, victories have been a huge factor in determining Heisman Trophy winners, especially at the quarterback position. The only quarterbacks who have won the Heisman Trophy with fewer than 10 wins over the past decade are Tim Tebow (9-4 with Florida in 2007) and Robert Griffin III (9-3 with Baylor in 2011). Mahomes is not the cult hero these two are, meaning he’ll have to steal the spotlight away from Jackson somehow. Going undefeated the rest of the way and winning the Big 12 championship would be nice.
Patrick Mahomes is definitely a Heisman candidate and should be given an invitation to New York based on his individual stats, but until his team sorts their problems out, he is not worthy of winning the Heisman Trophy. But he certainly deserves to.