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Baker Mayfield: No. 6 wins OU’s sixth Heisman

Baker Mayfield poses with his Heisman Trophy, which was manufactured by MTM Recognition in Del City.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – You couldn’t write a movie script any better than this: a walk-on quarterback comes from the heart of enemy territory to battle the incumbent who just upset a powerhouse team, and then becomes one of the best quarterbacks college football has ever seen.

That plotline was delivered by Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who won this year’s Heisman Memorial Trophy as the best college football player in the nation. He played high school football for Lake Travis in Austin, Texas, home of OU’s archrival Texas Longhorns. Mayfield grew up a Sooner fan, but Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops had a good stable of quarterbacks and didn’t offer a scholarship to Mayfield.

TCU had entertained offering Baker a scholarship but backed off. He also had offers from Rice, Florida Atlantic, and New Mexico but he didn’t want to attend any of those universities. So, Mayfield walked on at Texas Tech, and due to an injury to Michael Brewer, the favorite to start for the Red Raiders, Mayfield got the nod to start at the beginning of the season. He was the first walk-on to start for a major college football team. After leading the Raiders to a 5-0 record, Mayfield suffered an injury and did not play the rest of the 2013 season.

He was named the Big 12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year, but Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury failed to offer Mayfield a scholarship. So, Baker decided to walk on at the Sooners football team and enrolled at OU just days after Trevor Knight led OU to a victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl by throwing four touchdown passes.

After sitting out the 2014 season, per NCAA rules, Mayfield (who wears the No. 6 jersey) challenged Knight, who had been inconsistent as the Sooners’ quarterback that year. Mayfield got the starting job before the 2015 season kicked off. He has led the Sooners to a 34-5 record and three Big 12 Championships these last three years, and Mayfield has Oklahoma in the College Football Playoffs for the second time in three years.

His performance this year is ahead of last season when he set the NCAA record for passing efficiency. Mayfield has completed 262-of-369 passes this year for a career-high 4,340 yards and 41 touchdowns to just five interceptions. He has also rushed for 310 yards and another five scores with no fumbles lost. With an efficiency rating of 203.8 this year, he is 7.4 points ahead of last year’s mark. Mayfield's career passing efficiency mark of 176.0 might break the FBS record held by OU’s Sam Bradford (175.6), who won the Heisman in 2008.

Mayfield has thrown a TD pass in a Big 12-record 39 consecutive games (every contest of his OU career), which is the third-longest streak in FBS history. He's also thrown at least two TD passes in a Big 12-record 26 straight contests (81 TDs to 13 interceptions during the stretch), which is tied with Boise State's Kellen Moore for what is believed to be the longest streak in FBS history.

Mayfield said Saturday night upon accepting the 83rd Heisman Trophy, to “never give up.”

“Coach Stoops, you welcomed a chubby, unathletic kid into the program with open arms,” Mayfield said. “I wouldn’t say that many would do that, but thank you. The thing I’m most thankful for is hiring coach Riley. The day you did that changed my life.”

Mayfield then began his list of appreciation to his family, teammates, coaches, and fans.

“Coach Riley, you’ve been a great mentor to me. We’ve been through a lot together. I appreciate you."

“My family – I love you guys. There were times when I had to move, (and) you guys made sacrifice after sacrifice just so that I could chase my dreams. I wouldn’t be here without you. I love you. I have a family that’s second to none.

“To all the Sooner fans back home – including Billy (Sims) up here, too – it’s been a dream come true to play at OU. Although I grew up in Austin, Texas, I was always Sooner born and Sooner bred. When I die, I’ll be Sooner dead. I truly mean that. It’s been a dream for me. It’s an honor to get to represent my school.

“There are many more people I could thank, who helped me get here. Unbelievable. I can’t name everybody because it’s too many.

“And although that statue right there is going to have my name on it, it’s more deserving to my team too and my coaches. I appreciate you guys. And to the kids out there: Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”

Mayfield becomes just the fifth player and first since Georgia's Herschel Walker from 1980 to '82 to finish in the top four of Heisman Trophy balloting three times. The other three to do it were Glenn Davis (Army; 1944-46), Doc Blanchard (also Army; 1944-46) and Doak Walker (SMU; 1947-49). Mayfield finished third in voting last year and fourth in 2015.

This story will have a happier ending if Mayfield leads the Sooners to their eighth national championship.

“I came back to win a national title,” Mayfield told ESPN’s Chris Fowler.

His quest begins New Year’s Day as the Sooners meet Georgia in the Rose Bowl.

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About the Author

Ray Dozier

Ray Dozier is the author of Legends of Oklahoma Sooners Football and two editions of The...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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