People who know Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield say his success is attributed to one very important quality — his moxie.
He describes his moxie as energetic, enthusiastic and “laid back at times.” That helps explain the nickname he received at Lake Travis High School, “Shake and Bake.”
When he played for the Cavaliers, Mayfield said he developed another quality — being fearless — noting his teammates fed off of his moxie.
“It’s about distributing the ball,” he said. “Distributing the ball to the playmakers. You have to make plays for them.”
Mayfield is listed at 6 feet 1 inch and weighs 210 pounds. But don’t let the fact the he is not a prototype quarterback fool you. Then again, maybe Mayfield would prefer that.
“There’s high expectations, and that’s how I like it,” he said. “I take it in stride, it helps me move along .I expected us to have that type of year last year. We need to eliminate two losses and push forward.”
That would explain how he threw for 3,700 yards, 36 touchdowns and seven interceptions and rushed for 634 yards and scored seven touchdowns on the ground last season while leading the Sooners to an 11-2 record and the Big 12 championship. The season ended in a 37-17 loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl as Oklahoma became the first Big 12 team to play in the College Football Playoff.
The quarterback said he uses “anything and everything” as motivation.
“You’d be surprised,” he said. “I listen to people who say I can’t do something.”
But it’s not just the quarterback that fans should feel good about, Mayfield said. He also noted the depth at receiver, the two running backs in Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine, and the offensive line.
He believes Perine, another Central Texas product, has all the tools to be the next great running back for the Sooners.
And with Mayfield promising not get too excited for one particular opponent, the Sooners are poised for another memorable year.
It also helped the quarterback got back a year of eligibility that was taken from him when he transferred from Texas Tech to Oklahoma.
Mayfield said it never occurred to him that after he transferred, the conference would end up naming a rule after him. The reason he transferred was because he wasn’t given a scholarship from Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury after his first year.
So while he sat out 2014 by NCAA rule and ended up paying his own way that year at Oklahoma, a season after he was named the conference’s Offensive Freshman of the Year, the Big 12 was going to make him lose that year of eligibility since he transferred within the conference.
But during the summer of 2016, a group representing the conference schools voted to give Mayfield back the year he sat out, since he paid his own way at each school in 2013 and 2014.
That rule is now called the Baker Mayfield Rule.
“I guess I kind of set the standard for walk-ons,” he said. “It’s a good rule change.”
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops praised Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt and Kingsbury for voting in favor of the rule change.
“I get it helps or is a positive advantage for Baker Mayfield, but let’s look beyond one guy,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do. That’s the bottom line. Pleased that it worked out that way, not only for Baker but any guy moving forward. If a guy can leave one program and go somewhere else, he’s not on scholarship and get on the field and play, then that’s what he should do.”
Kingsbury said it appears things worked out well for Mayfield and his quarterback, Patrick Mahomes.
“I loved coaching (Mayfield), I loved the chip on his shoulder, cheered for him in every game except one, and it’s been fun to see the success he has had,” Kingsbury said.
“I’m proud of the fact that he’s played so well,” he added. “I enjoyed our time together. And we’ll see what he can do by the end of the season.”
And while Mayfield has one rule named after him, a specific hit he took last season forced officials to look at the defenseless player rule. Walt Anderson, the Big 12’s coordinator of officials, pulled up video to show the difference between a good tackle of a ball carrier and a bad tackle of a ball carrier, who is already going to the ground and is hit from the side resulting in both heads colliding. Mayfield took the hit.
Said Mayfield, “I’m not going to change my style of play.”
Mayfield anticipated Texas Tech fans will welcome him with open arms when the Sooners are in Lubbock Oct. 22.
“I’ll definitely catch some tortillas,” he said with a smile.
But before that drive to west Texas, Mayfield mentioned a road trip to southeast Texas to start the season against the Houston Cougars, which went 13-1 last season. For the Oklahoma Sooner, it’s a homecoming of sorts since both of his parents, James and Gina Mayfield, attended UH. He also is familiar with the Cougars’ sports history that includes the men’s basketball team’s Phi Slama Jama, which played in the 1983 national championship game but lost to North Carolina State 54-52.
“I have a lot of memories of Houston,” he said.
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