Playing professional sports is the ultimate fantasy for many athletes. For baseball players, those dreams can be realized earlier than other sports.
But what happens when that dream is only a part of the ultimate plan? For some deserving football players -- who happen to be two-sport athletes in football and baseball -- the idea of playing college football takes precedence to making six, seven or even eight figures in baseball.
For a few athletes who grew up in Texas, where football is king, the idea is hardly far-fetched. And especially for those Texas athletes who are the sons of former Major League Baseball stars.
"I like baseball, but to me, right now, I'm all about focusing on being a better football player," said Shane Buechele, an ESPN Junior 300 quarterback and the son of former big-leaguer Steve Buechele. "I feel like I can affect the game more at quarterback. I have the ball in my hands more than I do in baseball. I want to know I'm making a difference."
Buechele, who attends Arlington Lamar High School, and recent Whitehouse High School graduate Patrick Mahomes, a freshman at Texas Tech, are two Texas quarterbacks many assume have a shot at one day turning pro at either football or baseball. Ask them what they would do if put in the situation, and both said playing college football -- and having the college experience -- is their current priority.
Mahomes has signed with Texas Tech and will back up Davis Webb at quarterback for the 2014 season as well as play baseball for the Red Raiders. The son of former big-league pitcher Pat Mahomes, Patrick was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 37th round of the draft in June. He announced via Twitter that he would decline turning pro in baseball and attend college.
Well after an intriguing opportunity to play Major League Baseball... I will be moving to Lubbock tomorrow! #GunsUp— Patrick Mahomes (@PatrickMahomes5) June 7, 2014
Instead of making money, Mahomes decided to hone his skills.
"After a lot of talk with my parents and a lot of praying, I knew the best decision for me was to go to college and get to experience college football and baseball," Mahomes said. "It was the best decision for me and my future. The biggest advantage is getting all the memories that college gives you and the life of being a college kid."
So why choose against being a baseball professional out of high school? Mahomes said the combination of playing Big 12 football for a well-known quarterbacks coach in Kliff Kingbury was a big part of the decision. As was the chance to improve his stock while playing college baseball. He added that if he stays healthy, another opportunity to go pro will come down the road.
For Buechele, hearing his father's stories was all he needed. Steve Buechele was drafted ninth overall by the Chicago White Sox in the 1979 draft. Fresh out of California's Servite High School, he chose to attend Stanford rather than sign with the White Sox.
It was there where he met his college roommate -- Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway -- and also became a better player and a better person.
"Being roommates with John Elway, I'm sure that was probably two of the most fun years he was there," Shane Buechele said of his father. "John played both, but he was a better football player as we all saw. After games, my dad said they'd hang out in the dorm room and have a lot of fun. The stories he'd tell are very cool.
"My dad had a full ride going to Stanford, and he said that was the best decision he ever made. He had a chance to play [pro] baseball right out of high school, but he didn't. I know with me, I want to go to college."
And Shane Buechele will have options. He already offers from TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Texas, as well as Kentucky. Baylor, Stanford and Texas A&M also are showing interest in the 6-foot-1, 173-pound quarterback who just finished his sophomore year.
If Steve Buechele had his way, he'd have his youngest son follow the footsteps of those before him and attend college. Oldest son Garrett played baseball at Oklahoma and was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 2011. Middle son Tanner played at Fullerton College.
"The only reason I think a high school kid should sign to go pro is the money," the elder Buechele said. "The money's good now, compared to the days when I was drafted. If you choose to take it, I can't blame a kid for that. But I also believe that you're going to become a better player in college. That was most important to me, becoming a better player.
"I can look back to being 17 and being a first-round pick out of high school. I can remember my parents telling me their wish for me was to go to college, but if I decided to sign, they'd support me all the way. My wife and I will be the same way with Shane. We're behind him 100 percent."
There are those who might find it head-scratching, but there's also a mystique about football that Lone Star State athletes truly appreciate.
Torii Hunter Jr., the son of the Detroit Tigers outfielder, had a chance to play pro baseball last year after being drafted by the Tigers. Instead, the two-sport star -- and an ESPN 300 wide receiver in 2013 -- chose to attend Notre Dame and will play wide receiver.
And then there's the cream of the quarterback crop of the 2015 class, Texas A&M commit Kyler Murray, an ESPN 300 player and the nation's top-ranked dual-threat quarterback. While he is expected to play college football, many are wondering if he'll be drafted as a highly coveted infielder. As the son of former A&M quarterback Kevin Murray and the nephew of former big-league outfielder Calvin Murray, Kyler has said in the past that he plans to play college football, but things could change as he's projected to be a high draft pick in the 2015 MLB draft.
For Mahomes, the decision was fairly simple. While baseball is attractive, putting on a Red Raiders uniform in the fall is something he's extremely excited for. The idea of playing college football in his home state won him over.
"It's a huge role in it how much [football] is supported in Texas, especially in Lubbock. That's what brought me here," Mahomes said. "Both of my parents told me from the beginning that it was my decision, and they stuck with that. My dad had a full ride to Arkansas for basketball, and he knew how hard it was to let that go, so he knew what situation I was in."
For Shane Buechele, it's a no-brainer. Although he can play shortstop, center field and pitcher, he says he prefers the chance to improve in college. And like Mahomes, Buechele also is excited about playing quarterback in front of thousands of screaming college fans.
"I want to play both in college," he said, "but if I have to pick one, I'll definitely play football."