DALLAS -- This time a month ago, Patrick Mahomes was in the throes of hardball withdrawal.
The Texas Tech quarterback couldn't help but feel a tinge of regret when the Red Raiders advanced to the College World Series, where they were eliminated by eventual national champion Coastal Carolina.Mahomes appeared in three games as a pitcher and third baseman for Texas Tech in 2015, but opted to forego his sophomore season on the diamond and focus exclusively on the gridiron.
If not for that decision, Mahomes would've punched his own ticket to Omaha. Compounding his longing to don a glove was the fact that his alma mater, Whitehouse High, made a deep run in the Texas state baseball tournament.
"I had to watch them play ball, in the postseason," he lamented, "but at the same time, I was so focused on football that it really didn't matter."
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During his press conference at Big 12 media days, Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury was asked why he believes Mahomes will improve on his first season as the Red Raiders starter, when he threw for an FBS-fourth best 4,653 yards with 36 touchdowns.
He didn't hesitate.
"I think the biggest thing was not playing baseball," said Kingsbury, "and it's the first full offseason he's ever had as a football player. So the weight room, film with his teammates, working on mechanics and working on his footwork."
Check out the full recap from #TexasTech's day at #Big12FB Media Days - https://t.co/N6Yr1aR30V #WreckEmhttps://t.co/lRPAAfAmkV— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) July 19, 2016
Since becoming a one-sport athlete, Mahomes has noticed his mechanics becoming more consistent. Last spring and fall, he'd stride like he was delivering a fastball -- only to watch the football he was throwing sail well above the intended receiver.
"And it was baseball coming out," Mahomes said. "Now, with being football all the way, you can see my mechanics are tighter than they've been before."
Kingsbury agrees and is glad his starting passer isn't alternating sports -- or arm slots.
"You come from pitching and jog over to practice, there's going to be a little funkiness to that transition," Kingsbury said. "This year, his arm slot has never changed. That's because he never held that little round ball, just a football.
"He looked like a more much accurate passer, and a much more mechanically sound thrower of the football this spring."
"I think you'll see a more refined, athletic and polished quarterback this fall." - on Patrick Mahomes II. #WreckEm https://t.co/nTc6anzmNv— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) July 18, 2016
Kingsbury didn't dissuade Mahomes from playing baseball, and believes he arrived at the decision on his own after parsing the success he had last fall while only devoting most of his energy to the sport.
Now, Kingsbury explained, Mahomes has a little more time to watch film, a little more time to lift weights, and a little more time to bond with his receivers.
"And we've maximized that time," Kingsbury said.
For his part, Mahomes hasn't ruled out a return to the diamond. At least, not technically.
"I wouldn't say forever," Mahomes said. "There's always an opportunity, a chance. But for now, it's all football."
This article was written by Joey Lomonaco from The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.