A Blessing in Disguise
It was just a few moments after a 2016 victory against Bedlam-rival Oklahoma State, Baker Mayfield announced to the world that he will stay for his senior season at Oklahoma, as opposed to entering the NFL draft.
Many thought this was ridiculous due to the body of work Mayfield already had achieved. The chance for risking a potential career-changing injury and his place among a weak quarterback class. Therefore, Baker landed in a position to do what he does best, overcome adversity.
Aside from what he has done on the field, Mayfield was challenged since day one. A walk-on at Texas Tech, Alex Kirshner of SBNation notes that Baker was “5-0 with nearly 1500 yards and an efficiency rating near 150”.
Beginning to set the NCAA ablaze, an injury would hinder his moment and create an odd distance between him and his former coach, Kliff Kingsbury. In a 2014 interview with ESPN analyst Jake Trotter, Mayfield responded to his reason leaving Texas Tech being:
“When I got healthy, I didn’t know why I wasn’t playing right away. At that time, we were losing a couple games in a row. I was still clueless as to why I wasn’t playing. That was really frustrating for me because I started the first five games and we won. So, I just didn’t really know exactly what he was thinking or what the situation was.”
It led to confusion, embarrassment, an anomaly in a matter of seconds, but also a blessing. Texas Tech gave him trouble with scholarships. Therefore, Mayfield would find himself in Norman, Oklahoma under former head coach Bob Stoops. As he envisioned the battle of becoming the starter quarterback, Mayfield’s real challenge came about in “finding a place to settle in and get comfortable. OU is a place that’s familiar to me”.
Proposal Passed, 7-3
In 2015, he lead the Sooners (11-2) to a Big 12 title. A critical decision by the Big 12 committee was voted upon in the following offseason. Fighting for months. As of June 2nd, 2016, walk-on transfers who were not offered scholarships by their previous schools, would not lose a year of eligibility, granting Mayfield his 2017 season. Moments after, Mayfield had a few words of his own:
And y'all thought you were getting rid of me….
— Baker Mayfield (@baker_mayfield6) June 2, 2016
It would ignite the spark of Mayfield into flames and don him as the best Oklahoma quarterback in history, and perhaps one of the greatest in the NCAA.
Mayfield’s Farewell Tour
Entering the 2017 season, with rookie head coach Lincoln Riley after the sudden departure of Bob Stoops. No one knew what to expect of this team. Yes, the Sooners have a two-time Heisman finalist who just came off the most efficient season in NCAA history in 2016. The losses of Mixon, Perine, and Westbrook are crucial firepower needing replacements.
An early test was when the Sooners traveled to Columbus, Ohio. Obviously meant a great deal for Mayfield considering what happened in the previous year. Possibly his worst game as the Sooners starting quarterback, completing just 53% of his passes for 226 yards along with 2 touchdowns and interceptions in a blowout loss to the Buckeyes, ensued a Tebow-like moment in the post-game presser.
— Nate Feken (@TheGreat_Nate) September 18, 2016
A year later the humbling experience for such an emotional player displayed the growth and seriousness Mayfield took this loss. The Sooners would route the Buckeyes 31-16 in the Horseshoe, behind an exceptional performance by Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson. It would also end with a classic Mayfield antic:
Baker Mayfield planting the Oklahoma flag in the middle of the Ohio State O at the Horseshoe is as savage as it gets. pic.twitter.com/PrtgtUvmzL
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) September 10, 2017
Ready to take the NCAA by its throat, Mayfield has done it in spectacular fashion.
Mayfield is on pace to be the first FBS quarterback with a passing efficiency above 200, currently at 203.76. As well as leading the country in completion percentage (71.0), Mayfield has thrown for 41 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions on 4,340 yards, ranking him second to Oklahoma State’s own Mason Rudolph.
Not only being responsible for a record 127 OU touchdowns in his career, he has become the only player in FBS history to throw for at least 13,500 yards and rush for at least 1,000.
A traitor, diva, or classless player; call him whatever you want. Nonetheless, that decision has embodied him into the player he is today. “I’m coming back. I’ll be here for another year for the opportunity of a three-peat and the ultimate goal of winning a national championship”. Already accomplishing the former of the statement, the success of the latter would cement a legacy that should not be taken for granted.
Heisman trophy. Potential first-round draft pick. Championship trophy. It is only right to sign off with a crotch grab:
— FOX Sports Radio (@FoxSportsRadio) November 21, 2017