Video: Patrick Mahomes high school highlights
Watch 2018 NFL MVP star in three sports at Whitehouse (Texas).
They handed out game balls after Whitehouse (Texas)
opened the 2013 football season with a resounding 58-28 win at Hallsville. The first one was obvious.
Senior Patrick Mahomes
lit up the Bobcats' secondary for 455 passing yards and four scores that day, and for good measure, he crossed everyone up by improvising for a rushing touchdown as well.
In the locker room, he also called an audible by accepting the first game ball and then paying it forward to Adam Cook, making his varsity head coaching debut.
Cook, the Wildcats' offensive coordinator the previous three seasons, was floored, even emotional about the gesture then.
He was similarly affected Thursday retelling his character story about one the brightest stars in America's biggest sport 10 days before Mahomes' Kansas City Chiefs face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV at Miami's Hard Rock Stadium.
Cook, now the school's athletic director, displays that football proudly in his office along with other Mahomes mementos.
"How many 18-year-olds, during a moment of glory and personal adulation, would have the genuine heart and maturity to hand a grown man the game ball?" Cook asked. "It touched me then but looking back now, knowing that the 2018 MVP and face of the NFL honored me in that way is more than special.
"It tells you largely everything you need to know about Patrick Mahomes."
For the last two years and especially the last two weeks, Cook has gladly and enthusiastically been telling tales of Mahomes' illustrious and busy three-sport prep career that culminated with the MaxPreps national 2013-14 Male Athlete of the Year Award.
Over the previous three days alone, the 42-year-old athletic director said he'd done more than 20 interviews from local and national media who've wandered their way to the remote East Texas campus about 125 miles east of Dallas and 75 miles west of the Louisiana border.
They've asked Cook everything under the sun about Mahomes, from his academics to practice habits to social engagement to martial arts skills and acting prowess.
"Honestly, it's been a really fun time for me," Cook said during a 45-minute phone call. "It's easy to talk about Patrick because of who he is and who he was back then. Beyond all his amazing play and competitive spirit was just a special young man. What you see is what you get with Patrick."
That's exactly what we heard in the spring of 2014, days after he played his final baseball game and sporting event at Whitehouse.
The son of former Major League pitcher Pat Mahomes — he grew up taking infield lessons from Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez when his dad was with the Yankees — Patrick Mahomes faced the real possibility of not playing football again if he was drafted high enough.
At 6-foot-3, 215 pound in high school, he hit 93 mph with his fastball and played every position but catcher for the Wildcats during a four-year career. Mahomes hit nearly .500 during his time at Whitehouse and fired a no-hitter with 16 strikeouts in a 2-1 win over Mount Pleasant during his senior year. Later that same day, Mahomes went 3-for-4 with a home run and knocked in three runs in a 10-3 win over Princeton.
"He can do pretty much anything he wants to do on the baseball field," Whitehouse baseball coach Derrick Jenkins told us at the time. "Plus, he's the smartest baseball player I've ever coached. He's like having a coach out there."
Mahomes said "If the offer is right, I could go that way (straight to minor league baseball). I know now right at this moment my plan is to play quarterback and play and pitch at Texas Tech. I look forward to that. But there's still a lot of talk and possibilities. I have to remain open."
Then-Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury sounded quite prophetic when trying to convince Mahomes he should give football a full-time whirl.
After all, the remarkably athletic and innovative high school kid had only played quarterback for two seasons, racking up 8,458 passing yards, another 1,198 rushing and 117 total touchdowns. He was named AP's Texas 4A Player of the Year when accounting for 5,559 total yards and 65 yards as a senior, leading the Wildcats to a 12-1 season that ended abruptly with a 65-60 loss to Poteet.
Mahomes, however, ended his prep football career with a bang — 619 passing yards and seven touchdowns.
Because he attended few camps and split time between sports, his football recruitment was as a 3-star, according to 247Sports, which ranked him the 398th best recruit nationally from the Class of 2014 and 50th overall from Texas.
He had three college football offers: Texas Tech, Rice and Oklahoma State.
"I really think he's just scratching the surface (at quarterback) with the time he played different sports throughout the year," Kingsbury told Sports Illustrated at the time. "When he really focuses on football the majority of the time I think you're really going to see him take off in that position."
Boy, did Kingsbury prove correct. A prolific three-year college career led him to be the 10th pick in the 2017 NFL draft and eventually the first quarterback in history to throw for more than 5,000 yards in college and in an NFL season.
But Cook and others say had Mahomes been a one-sport kid, perhaps his creative and unique style wouldn't have flourished. The side-arm throws and no-look flips on the gridiron could be traced to the baseball field and basketball hardwood, the latter actually being his first love.
Yes, Mahomes was also a Division I basketball prospect, where he averaged 19.2 points and 8.3 rebounds his senior season at Whitehouse. He scored 49 and 37 in two playoff wins when the Wildcats needed him to take over.
"Whatever Patrick focused on, whatever he touched, he excelled," Cook said. "His parents did a great job of not forcing him to choose one sport or specialize. Whatever sport he played at the time was his favorite. And we all embraced it. He was the poster child for three-sport athletes and I think that gave him the freedom you see him playing with now."
Richard Peacock, Whitehouse's athletic director before Cook, said in 2014 that Mahomes was the best all-around athlete he'd ever seen in Texas. And he'd seen many over five different decades.
"What he's accomplished is amazing, but honestly more amazing might be what a great young man he is," Peacock said. "How humble he is despite all the attention he receives really speaks to his character and upbringing.
"It's hard to separate what's more impressive. His athletic ability or character."
Jenkins, who still coaches baseball at Whitehouse, backed up that notion, noting how Mahomes spent extra time after practice with his then 8- and 6-year-old sons, Logan and Jackson.
"He always plays with them and talks and listens," Jenkins said. "He'll play catch and help coach them. There's not a selfish bone in Patrick's body, which is very refreshing. Especially considering how gifted he is and how much attention he receives from the media and colleges.
"He's once-in-a-lifetime talent. He's a once-in-a-lifetime kid."
He's a kid no longer.
But what Cook saw while coaching Mahomes is what he sees today. He said he often looks at the MaxPreps photos taken during Mahomes' senior year in football and baseball and sees more than action shots.
"You see him throwing from the side or the determination of his face as he pitches and it encompasses all the traits of the player who is helping evolve the (NFL) today," Cook said. "And all he did here, in all three sports, was pursue greatness and compete for his team and school. He went as hard as he could each and every game of every sport. He gave it his all."
And a game ball to boot.