Kansas City Chiefs Megastar Patrick Mahomes Prepares For Kliff Kingsbury, His Former College Coach

Kliff Kingsbury chats with current Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes before a Texas … [+] Tech game against the Baylor Bears on November 24, 2018 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)

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Asked if he had scouted Sunday’s opposing quarterback, Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury chuckled.

“A little bit,” he said. “He’s a pretty decent player.”

No matter how deeply he’s delved into film study this week, Kingsbury is already very familiar with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, having served as his head coach at Texas Tech from 2014 to 2016.

“It’s someone who has taught me a ton not only about football but about life,” Mahomes said. “He helped me become who I am today.”

Under Kingsbury’s watch, Mahomes put up prodigious stats during his 32 games, completing 63.6% of his 1,349 passes for 11,252 yards, 93 touchdowns and just 29 interceptions. But the team disappointed overall, going 16-21 with Mahomes and Kingsbury at the helm.

They will be on opposing teams for the first time when the Chiefs face the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in Week One.

“It will be a little surreal going against him, but it will be fun,” Kingsbury said. “It will be fun for Texas Tech people as well.”

Will Kingsbury’s familiarity with Mahomes give him any kind of advantage?

“I hope not,” Mahomes said. “I‘m sure he has a few more tricks that he might know from my college days, but I feel like I’ve grown a lot since I’ve been in the NFL. Hopefully, we can combat that, but I’m sure he has a good idea of who I am.”

Mahomes was diplomatic, but CBS studio analyst Boomer Esaison, whose network is making Chiefs-Cardinals its marquee game Sunday, was more pointed, dismissing any notion Kingsbury could have an edge.

“I don’t think there’s any advantage whatsoever. I mean, this is a completely different player. This is probably the best player in the NFL in Patrick Mahomes,” Esaison said. “He’s a different player now than when Kingsbury was his head coach.”

Indeed Mahomes has evolved from a raw, but talented player into a regular-season MVP, Super Bowl MVP and a player who was given the largest contract in NFL history at $450 million, though the opposing quarterback in Week One, Kyler Murray, just surpassed Mahomes’ $45 million average with a new extension averaging $46.1 million.

But long before he became a half-a-billion-dollar star, Mahomes arrived at Texas Tech as a somewhat-under-the-radar prospect.

Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury talks with quarterback Patrick Mahomes during a … [+] game against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on Sept. 17, 2016 at AT&T Jones Stadium won 59-45 by Texas Tech. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)

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Kingsbury, who had taken over as Texas Tech head coach after current Alabama senator Tommy Tuberville quit in December of 2012 to become head coach at University of Cincinnati, was one of the few college coaches to recruit Mahomes as a quarterback.

“Really the first and only,” Mahomes said, “because I didn’t get recruited by much.”

The other offers came from smaller schools. The University of Texas did recruit the Tyler, Texas product — but only as a defensive back.

The son of the major league pitcher had a great arm but had been focused on baseball, and on the football field, his footwork was erratic, and his release wasn’t tight.

Mahomes credits Kingsbury for taking a chance on him and also not forcing him to be a pocket quarterback. He never restricted his unorthodox, sandlot style, featuring unique arm angles that he has used to thrive in the NFL.

“He let me be who I was on and off the field,” Mahomes said.

Kingsbury, who also played quarterback at Texas Tech and recorded 39 school records and received the Sammy Baugh Trophy during his playing days, formed a bond with his pupil who would win the same award given to the top collegiate passer.

“They’re close,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said. “He loved Patrick. He thought he’d be a great professional player.”

Reid said Kingsbury’s input helped him when the Chiefs scouted Mahomes prior to the 2017 NFL Draft. Whether Mahomes went pro or not after his junior year, Kingsbury advised him to go “all in.”

Mahomes stays in touch with his mentor. They’re on a group text thread about Texas Tech football and were recently praising Texas Tech offensive coordinator Zach Kittley, who was an assistant quarterback coach during Mahomes’ and Kingsbury’s time there, after the Red Raiders scored 63 points against Murray State last weekend.

Though Mahomes said there won’t be much communication between them this week, he’s looking forward to facing Kingsbury on Sunday.

“It’s definitely going to be an awesome moment that we’ll have forever,” Mahomes said. “Hopefully, I get the win. So I can have those bragging rights for the rest of time.”

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