Texas Tech Visits Longview With Heisman Buzz Around Patrick Mahomes II
LONGVIEW -- Kliff Kingsbury proudly claimed during Texas Tech's satellite camp Wednesday at Longview High School's Lobo Stadium that six of his 22 starters call East Texas home.
Of the six players mentioned by the head coach, one especially resonated with the current group of high schoolers hoping to pick up scholarship opportunities. Patrick Mahomes II.
The former Whitehouse quarterback certainly has made a name for himself in two seasons as Texas Tech's primary signal caller. It all started less than a semester removed from departing high school as a legendary football, basketball and baseball player.
In fact, just a few hours before the camp in Longview began, Dave Campbell's Texas Football revealed the summer edition of its magazine will mainly feature Mahomes and Kingsbury on the cover.
"That's a great word any time it's around your quarterback," Kingsbury said when the word 'Heisman' came up along with the cover during his media session. "Last year, statistically, you look at the numbers, what he did was phenomenal. All-time type numbers. I have a feeling they'll be much better. I have a feeling we'll be a better team. We'll see how that shakes out."
According to Dave Campbell's Texas Football managing editor Greg Tepper, the upcoming cover art was entirely influenced by the magazine's iconic cover in 1963 featuring legendary Texas coach Darrell Royal and star defensive lineman Scott Appleton.
Part of the reason that former image is iconic is because Appleton went on to win the Outland Trophy ahead of Texas winning the national championship.
Let's tap the breaks on the Red Raiders winning the 2016 title. The program went 7-6 last season and had a losing record in Big 12 Conference play.
At the same time, however, Mahomes became a widely respected name across the collegiate landscape.
Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy in 2011 a year removed from a 7-6 season. His Baylor squad helped him get there with a 9-3 followup campaign before winning the Alamo Bowl.
If Mahomes' 2015 individual season was a tee-up for a Heisman run just as Griffin's 2010 year was, the Whitehouse product put up 973 more total yards. Mahomes even surpassed Griffin's Heisman passing mark by 360 yards while coming within 243 yards of Griffin's Heisman rushing mark for a net positive of 117 yards.
And Kingsbury coached Johnny Manziel to the 2012 Heisman Trophy during his one season as Texas A&M's offensive coordinator before being hired away by Texas Tech.
"He's really improved his strength, his quickness, his speed and his mechanics," Kingsbury said of Mahomes. "Being able to focus on football for the first time ever in his life was big. I think everybody will see this fall he made huge strides as a player. Even his leadership. To be around his teammates in the offseason was huge."
Texas Tech's 2016 team also will feature Whitehouse receiver Dylan Cantrell, Lufkin receiver KeKe Coutee, Tenaha receiver Reginald Davis and Longview defensive lineman Broderick Washington. Kingsbury counts defensive lineman Gary Moore Jr. of Clarksville as well, which is not a part of the ETSN.fm coverage area.
Those names attract interest, too.
"It's definitely on top," Gladewater senior safety Austin Hawley said after Kingsbury's proclamation. "If I get the opportunity to play there, it's definitely one that I will consider. It's not one that I'm going to be able to overlook. I'm going to have to look deeply into that one. I'm just trying to get an opportunity right now."
Hawley does not have a Texas Tech scholarship offer. We'll get there.
The 2008 cover of Dave Campbell's summer edition featured former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach, quarterback Graham Harrell and receiver Michael Crabtree. That was the last time the program owned the entire cover by itself.
Harrell and Crabtree finished the year fourth and fifth in Heisman balloting behind winner Sam Bradford, first runner-up Colt McCoy and defending winner Tim Tebow.
Could this season provide a more favorable outcome for Texas Tech fans? Additionally, could an East Texas high school indirectly claim a Heisman winner for the first time since Earl Campbell of John Tyler won in 1977?
John Tyler's Greg Ward Jr., Houston's starting quarterback today, has a good preseason argument as well. More than that, every former regional player in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision is eligible.
But Texas Tech will accept the Mahomes buzz.
"It's some good photoshopping," Kingsbury said. "That's for sure. I think Pat is great. Looks big and looks the part. It's exciting any time you're part of that magazine. It's such a big part of Texas high school football and Texas college football. It's a real honor."
Hawley Makes His Case
Texas Tech always seems to come up when people try to project what the full college scholarship portfolio will look like for Gladewater safety Austin Hawley.
The senior, who currently owns one FBS offer from Louisiana-Monroe, has no issue with the speculation.
"I think it's because they keep contacting me," Hawley said. "Coach (Kevin) Patrick and coach (Karl) Scott. I guess they just know. The word gets out."
Hawley turned in a solid day at the camp and did seem to garner attention from higher-ranking people than the defensive line and cornerbacks coaches he mentioned by name. The collective staff actually asked him to leave the safeties position group so they could explore his capabilities as a linebacker as well.
After working with the linebackers for a while, Hawley switched between the safeties and linebackers groups for one-on-one drills.
"They really seem to like me," Hawley said. "Coach Patrick told me to give him a call sometime. Hey, I'm looking for some good news."
With that, Hawley walked off 10 steps and lined up next to Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury for a picture.
Judah Bell Tries To Increase His Choices
Bishop Gorman receiver Judah Bell stood out among a receivers group mostly comprised of fellow East Texans and players from West Louisiana.
Like really. He was the biggest player in the position group.
The senior already has 13 FBS offers, including one from Kansas within Texas Tech's Big 12 Conference, but more options give him better odds of finding the perfect fit between football, academics and on-campus life.
"I think they kind of set that aside," Bell said. "Not so much that I have 13 offers, but they talked to me, looked me in the eye, and said, 'You may have 13 offers, but this is what you need to work on.' I can only pick one of them, so, 'This is what you need to work on in order to prosper wherever you go.' You've got to be ready for that."
It has been a busy camp season for Bell. A good one, too.
"The best part of it is it's competitive," Bell said. "I learn a lot at each camp. I learn something different. The most beautiful part of it is you learn how each offense plays and does even little details differently throughout college football."
Bell caught 68 passes for 1,350 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. Mostly from quarterback Michael Goodwin.
Goodwin graduated last month and is preparing for a college career at Trinity after positing huge numbers in both the passing and running facets.
Things will change, but Bell is optimistic Bishop Gorman will find success in what is expected to be a tougher district than the past two seasons.
"There are going to be adjustments and adversity because Michael is an extremely good player," Bell said. "But we have young guys ready to step in. Jake Smith has a rocket launcher attached to his arm. He can throw the ball, so he'll be ready to go. Tyler Hobbs rotates at quarterback, too, and he's doing great. They've all got to look out for that."
Mineola Quarterback Gets Pointers From Kliff Kingsbury
Mineola signal caller Jeremiah Crawford and running back Chantz Perkins routinely broke off 60-yard runs toward 2,000-yard seasons last year. They have mostly overwhelmed East Texas and Metroplex competition the past two campaigns.
Brock had an answer last year in the Class 3A Division I state semifinals on its way to a championship win. Mineola's offensive production was inverted and too reliant on big passes for its seemingly successful numbers in a 38-22 loss.
The preseason goal was to win the state championship after falling in the 2014 title game.
Crawford, entering his senior season, camped with Texas Tech to get pointers from Kliff Kingsbury. Not only is Kingsbury the program's head coach, he's the full-time quarterbacks positional coach and chief offensive coordinator.
College coaches, per NCAA rules, are barred from talking about specific high school players until they sign with a school.
"Passing. Passing will get us back to the state championship game," Crawford said. "That and new linemen coming through. We lost the big Andersons (Austin Anderson and Riley Anderson to Texas A&M), but we will have people come in and fill their spots. We've got a couple of different people trying out for tackles, and we've got some good players coming up.
"Obviously, if they go hard, they can be as good as the Andersons or better. It's all about how good you practice and how well you play."
Crawford has put in a lot of practice. He has been leaving Mineola frequently this month to work with college staffs.
"I honestly can't tell you how many camps I've been too," Crawford said. "Probably 10 now. I've been to three in Dallas. I've got Texas coming up in Dallas. I've been to Longview now. I've been to Tyler. Kilgore. I've got to go to TCU. I've been to a lot."
The quarterback is still seeking his first scholarship opportunity.
"It's all about getting my first offer right now," Crawford said. "That's what I'm trying to do my hardest right now. It'll come when it comes."
Mineola will begin the 2016 season with internal expectations to win the state championship. Virtually all of its defense is returning as well as all of its offensive skill position players.
"You come out and give heart," Crawford said. "You come out and give it all that you can give. We'll be where we were. I promise you."