Patrick Mahomes had one of the best statistical seasons of any Texas Tech QB ever in 2015. His escapability and cannon of an arm were huge parts of the Red Raider attack, and at times were the saving grace of the Red Raiders in tight games. Partially due to the system he plays in, Mahomes got little to no national attention last season. His elusiveness was on display in the Advocare Texas Bowl, and woke the rest of the nation up to his talent. Now that everyone know exactly what kind of player he is, there's absolutely no reason why he shouldn't be in the conversation for the Heisman in 2016.
Texas Tech returns less weapons in 2016 than they did in 2015
In 2015, we knew we had explosiveness with senior receiver Jakeem Grant and senior running back DeAndre Washington. In 2016, that isn't necessarily the case. While running back Justin Stockton and receiver Ian Sadler return, I don't think we'll have the same type of explosiveness that we did in 2015.
Grant and Washington were exceptional players that got overlooked due to a mediocre 7-6 record. They each rank in Texas Tech's career and single season statistical Top 10, and will be sorely missed. This puts more weight squarely on the shoulders of Mahomes to make things happen. The offense will flow entirely through him, and he will definitely get the majority of the attention from opposing defensive coordinators. There will be no flying under the radar this year, Mahomes will be the target of every team we play. If he can overcome the focus on his playmaking abilities, he has the potential to have another season like he did this year.
Mahomes's stats are already on par with Heisman finalists
Let's take the full season stats of Clemson's Deshaun Watson, taking into account that Watson had a full game on Mahomes. According to cfbstats.com, Watson was 333 for 491 with 4105 yards, 35 TDs and 13 INTs. On the ground, Watson went for 1105 yards on 207 attempts with 12 touchdowns. Mahomes went 364 for 573, tallying 4653 yards, 36 TDs, and 15 INTs. Mahomes only rushed for 456 yards, but did it on 131 touches and went for 10 TDs. These statistics, minus Mahomes's ~500 yard lead in passing and Watson's ~500 yard lead in rushing are eerily similar. I know, I know, system QB, but how is Texas Tech's success a system thing and Clemson's isn't? The qualities of defenses in the Big XII and the ACC are different, yes, but that doesn't take away from Mahomes's comparable dominance.
Mahomes will hopefully have multiple attempts to prove himself on a national stage
In 2015, Texas Tech had one night game: The Advocare Texas Bowl. Every single other game was at either 11 AM ET or 2:30 PM ET. This year, Texas Tech's schedule sets Mahomes up for a bigger stage than 11 AM kickoffs. Texas Tech has a non-conference game against explosive Arizona State in Week 2, and could potentially be undefeated for showdowns with West Virginia and Oklahoma in the middle of their schedules. If Texas Tech and Oklahoma make it through their respective schedules undefeated by October 22nd, there is no reason why Lubbock doesn't land College Gameday and the night primetime slot.
A huge part of Heisman contention is primetime games and overall team skill. It should be about the individual player, but this is not a perfect world, so it isn't. If Texas Tech can shore up its defense and roll into the meat of their October schedule undefeated, Mahomes should get the night game exposure he needs to put himself in the conversation.
This all hinges on the assumption that Mahomes doesn't have a slump next year. If he doesn't, we can expect more flashy plays, huge numbers, and big games. Texas Tech has a legitimate shot at this, and if they can take care of business early, Mahomes should be at least in the conversation for college football's biggest award.