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Leading Men

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THE BEST PLAYERS YOU'RE NOT HEARING ABOUT

PLAYERS in the Baylor offense aren't the only ones putting up eye-popping numbers. Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes and San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey are quietly leading the nation at their respective positions.

Through six games Mahomes, a junior, has completed 71.3% of his passes (second in the nation) for 2,579 yards (first) and 21 touchdowns (fifth). That puts him a few steps behind pace to break the FBS record for yards (5,833) and passing touchdowns (58), but when his rushing totals, 152 yards and seven touchdowns, are added, Mahomes could produce one of the gaudiest statistical season in college football history.

Mahomes (below, in blue) is more than just a product of his Air Raid scheme. A 2014 draft pick of the Detroit Tigers, he gave up baseball in the spring to focus on the gridiron. Now, the 6'3" 230-pounder ranks third in Pro Football Focus's quarterback grades, behind only Louisville's Lamar Jackson and Clemson's Deshaun Watson. "I really don't know how you stop him," Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz said before Mahomes put up 507 yards of offense and six touchdowns on his Bulldogs. "Well, nobody else does either."

Meanwhile, Pumphrey (19) leads the nation in rushing yards with 1,111—or 185.2 per game—thanks to a blend of spectacular vision, speed and agility. Although the senior is only 5'9" and 180 pounds, he's durable, ranking seventh nationally in carries (167) while going for 6.7 yards per run, eighth best among those with at least 100 rushes. He has started every game since the beginning of his sophomore season, which he finished with 1,876 yards rushing, third in the nation; his 1,653 yards last year were seventh best in the U.S. "He reminds me of Reggie Bush," South Alabama coach Joey Jones said before Pumphrey steamrolled the Jaguars for 151 yards and one touchdown. "He takes one step and he changes direction really quick, and he's got the speed to take it home."

If Mahomes and Pumphrey keep it up, each may earn a trip to New York City in December.