'He always had that ‘it’ factor': Patrick Mahomes' friend, now a Tuttle preacher, foresaw a Super Bowl ring back at Whitehouse High School
The 2014 yearbook of Whitehouse High School, just outside the East Texas town of Tyler, had the typical goofy responses when seniors were asked what they would be looking forward to the most about the first class reunion.
Ali O’Connor: “Seeing what Jack Terrel does with his life.”
Kaitlin Rosetta: “Seeing who got fat and who got rich. That’s the whole point, right?”
And in between was Spencer Shaw: “Seeing Patrick Mahomes’ super bowl ring.”
Shaw, a Whitehouse basketball teammate of Mahomes’, was prescient and prophetic, befitting a guy who now is a preacher, at Tuttle Church of Christ.
“He always had that ‘it’ factor,” Shaw said of Mahomes. “Didn’t matter if it was basketball, baseball, football. He had the ability to do the miraculous. Make the difficult look simple. In addition to that, he has an incredible work ethic. And one of the best guys you’ll ever meet. You put it together, kind of the perfect formula for success.”
That success zenithed Sunday night, when Mahomes indeed won a Super Bowl ring. Mahomes quarterbacked the Chiefs to a 31-20 victory over the 49ers in Super Bowl 54, and in a few years, when the Whitehouse Class of ’14 congregates in the Piney Woods, Shaw might just see that jewelry he forecasted when Mahomes was 18 years old.
Mahomes himself was prophetic in those days Whitehouse days. In February 2013, after the Ravens beat the 49ers in Super Bowl 47, Mahomes tweeted: “I bet it feels amazing to be the quarterback who says ‘I’m going to Disney World’ after winning the Super Bowl.”
Sunday night, Mahomes was the quarterback who said that, as the Super Bowl most valuable player, and indeed, he spent Monday at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando.
Not that everyone was gung-ho on Mahomes in those days.
The people who knew him best loved him, and the people who judged him without stop watches loved him — the Texas Associated Press Sports Editors voted Mahomes the state’s high school player of the year in 2013.
But Mahomes was not highly recruited. On this national signing day, it might help to remember that Mahomes was rated the No. 398 prospect in America and the No. 50 prospect in Texas. Texas Tech and Houston offered scholarships. Oklahoma State slow-played Mahomes. OU and Texas no-played Mahomes.
No matter. Mahomes went to Tech, became a quarterback sensation, the Chiefs were enamored and moved up to take Mahomes 10th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.
“Most of the people back in Whitehouse kind of thought, whatever he put his mind to, he would succeed at it,” Shaw said. “If it wasn’t football, it would be something else.”
Shaw’s memories of Mahomes come easy. A football playoff game their junior year, when Mahomes scrambled back and forth across the field three times before launching a 50/60-yard touchdown pass to the end the first half. Jumping over a defender to dunk during a basketball fast break.
“In addition to that, his knowledge of the game,” Shaw said. “I loved watching him at Tech. A lot of the knocks he got coming out of Tech was more the system, people questing the system. How he would translate in the NFL. But knowing him, his intelligence around the game, that was something that never worried me. There’s something special about this guy.”
Shaw, 24, who ended up playing basketball at Oklahoma Christian University, doesn’t claim to be best friends with Mahomes. They were friends and teammates, since elementary school. They grew up playing sports together.
“He was just a fun guy to be around,” Shaw said. “Fun to hang with, funny guy. A really good guy. A really nice guy. Sometimes, it can be easy to let talent or fame and that kind of stuff get to your head, but that never really happened with him.”
As the Kansas City quarterback, Mahomes’ charity work, particularly with the Veteran Community Project, gets a lot of notoriety.
But Shaw said “it’s not a show thing. He’s always been that kind of guy. A guy you want to be around. The kind of guy you want to root for.”
And rooting indeed was Shaw’s mission Sunday night. The Tuttle Church of Christ doesn’t have Sunday night services, so Shaw wasn’t torn. He watched along with the rest of America as the Chiefs fell behind 20-10 in the second half.
“I got a little nervous,” Shaw said. “Like everything through Pat’s career, I was waiting for him to do his thing. He’s about to do something special, because that’s what he does all the time. Little nervous, but a lot of faith that he was going to end up doing what he was doing.”
Mahomes ended up doing what they talked about back in Whitehouse. Going to Disney World. Wearing a Super Bowl ring.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at oklahoman.com/berrytramel.