Baker Reagan Mayfield was born April 14, 1995 to James and Gina Mayfield in Austin, Texas. He was the second born after his brother, Matt Mayfield, five years his senior. Growing up in an ultracompetitive and tight-knit family, Baker’s focus was always on improving and beating each member of his family in games—whether it was ping pong, checkers, hide-n-seek, throwing competitions, or a game of “pig” or “horse” in the driveway. He approached and practiced everything he did with a sense of having fun, but
also with every intention of winning. Baker was constantly organizing activities for his friends. Again, the theme of comradery with competition was ever-present.
In high school, he continued this theme, playing baseball and football all four years. Baker eventually took command of the Lake Travis Cavaliers during the first game of his Junior season after his good friend and then starting quarterback, Colin Lagasse, went down with an injury. From that moment on, Baker led the Cavaliers to a 25–2 record in two seasons as the starter and won LT the 2011 4A State Championship—their fifth straight. He finished his high school football career totaling 6,255 passing yards, 67 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.
At the prescient suggestion of his father, Baker decided to turn down offers from Washington State, Florida Atlantic, and Rice, and walk-on to the University of Texas Tech in the summer of 2013. Shortly before the start of the season, after walking on just months prior, Mayfield was named the starting quarterback for the Red Raiders. Mayfield is the first walk-on true freshman ever to start a season opener at quarterback for a Division I program.
In his first collegiate start against Southern Methodist University, Mayfield passed for 413 yards and four touchdowns. His 43 completions of 60 attempts broke a school record held by Billy Joe Tolliver and fell only four completions short of the NCAA Division I FBS single-game record for completions by a freshman, held by Luke McCown. For his performance, Mayfield was named Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Week–the first freshman Texas Tech quarterback to be named so since 1999. Following the Red Raiders’ second victory over Stephen F. Austin, Mayfield’s 780 season yards and seven touchdowns already exceeded the 755 yards and six touchdowns accrued by Texas Tech’s last true freshman quarterback, Aaron Keesee, in 10 games. After winning the first five games before being affected by injury and battling for the starting job, Mayfield wound up finishing the season with 2,315 yards on 218-of-340 completions with 12 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
Mayfield was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Burlsworth Trophy in November; the award is given to the best player in Division I football who began his college career as a walk-on. Mayfield then earned Big 12 Conference Freshman Offensive Player of the Year for the 2013 season. That same day, after learning that he may not be receiving a scholarship the following spring, Mayfield announced that he would be leaving the program. The rest is history.
Despite growing up in Austin, Texas—home to the rival Texas Longhorns—due to his dad’s ties to the former OU coaches, Baker Mayfield grew up a die-hard Sooner fan, attending games with his parents and brother. So, when the time came for him to leave Texas Tech, the school of choice was a nobrainer. He and his mother made that familiar trek up Interstate-35 to Norman, Oklahoma in horrible weather conditions. Once they safely arrived, they enrolled Baker to the University of Oklahoma, unbeknownst to the OU coaching staff. That February though, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops confirmed that Mayfield would be officially entering the fray and walking on for the Sooners. Mayfield was not eligible to play until the 2015 season and lost a season of eligibility due to Big 12 interconference transfer rules following an unsuccessful appeal of his transfer restrictions.
After leading the scout team for the 2014 season, on August 24, 2015, Mayfield was officially named the starting quarterback for the Sooners. He won the open quarterback competition against Trevor Knight. On September 6, 2015, Mayfield started against Akron, totaling 388 passing yards with three passing touchdowns on 23 completions in the 41–3 win. In the second game of the 2015 season, Mayfield started at Tennessee at Neyland Stadium. The Sooners were ranked 19th at the time and the Volunteers were ranked 23rd. Mayfield and the Sooners came back from a 17-point deficit to win the game by a score of 31–24 in double overtime. Mayfield threw for 187 yards and three touchdowns on
19 completions while throwing two interceptions early in the game. In the third game of the season, Mayfield started against Tulsa. He had a career day, throwing for 487 yards and four touchdowns, including 316 yards in the first half. Mayfield also ran for 85 yards and two touchdowns in the 52–38 win over the ‘Canes.
In his first season as a Sooner, Mayfield finished the year with 3,700 passing yards, 36 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He finished fourth in voting for the Heisman Trophy and helped lead Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff Semi-Final against Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Clemson wound up defeating the Sooners 37–17.
Mayfield started off the 2016 season with 323 passing yards and two touchdowns in a 33–23 loss to against the #15 ranked Houston Cougars—his parents’ Alma Mater. The Sooners would bounce off of this loss and proceed to win 11 out of their next 12 games. One of these was the Red River Showdown against Texas, where he had 390 passing yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions in the 45–40 victory—the second win (of his three) in his undefeated career against his hometown Longhorns.
Another thrilling game for OU came on October 22, in a 66–59 victory over Texas Tech. Mayfield had 545 passing yards and seven touchdowns in an historic matchup against future NFL star, Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes tallied 734 passing yards and five touchdowns to go along with Mayfield’s numbers in a game that broke several single-game passing records. Over the final five games of the regular season, Mayfield totaled 1,321 passing yards, 15 passing touchdowns, and three interceptions, to go along with three rushing touchdowns.
In December 2016, it was announced that Mayfield and his top receiving target, Dede Westbrook, would be finalists for the 2016 Heisman Trophy. Mayfield ended up finishing third in the Heisman voting in New York City.
In the 2017 Sugar Bowl, Mayfield helped lead the Sooners to a 35–19 victory over Auburn. He finished the game with 19 completions on 28 attempts for 296 passing yards and two touchdowns, earning him the MVP award.
After a season-opening win against the University of Texas El Paso, the Sooners proceeded to upset the #2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes at home at the Shoe. They went on to win 5 out of the next 6 games before facing in-state rival Oklahoma State on November 4, 2017. Mayfield threw for a schoolhigh 598 yards, finishing 24-for-36 with five passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. Oklahoma won the game by a score of 62–52. Mayfield completed his career 3–0 as the starting Oklahoma quarterback in the Bedlam Series.
On December 2, 2017, with the return of the Big 12 Championship Game after a six-year hiatus, Mayfield led Oklahoma to its third straight Big 12 championship, with Oklahoma beating TCU 41–17. Mayfield won MVP honors while Oklahoma clinched a second Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Playoff
berth in three years. A month later in 2018 Rose Bowl, the Sooners lost to the Georgia Bulldogs 54–48 in an overtime thriller, which served as the national semifinal game.
On December 9, 2017, Mayfield won the 2017 Heisman Trophy with a landslide majority. He received 732 first-place votes and a total of 2,398 points. Baker received 86% of the possible points and the third highest percentage in Heisman history. After finishing fourth and third in voting the previous two seasons, Mayfield became the first and only walk-on player to ever win the Heisman Trophy.
The “Baker Mayfield Rule”
When Mayfield transferred from Texas Tech to Oklahoma after his freshman year, his family filed an appeal to the NCAA to allow him to be eligible to play immediately at Oklahoma on the basis that he was an un-recruited walk-on and not a scholarship player at Texas Tech. Therefore, the transfer rules that apply to scholarship players should not be applicable to his situation. The NCAA initially denied his appeal as he did not meet the criteria. Big 12 Conference rules additionally stipulate that intraconference transfers will lose one year of eligibility over and beyond the one-year sit-out imposed by the NCAA. Mayfield attempted to appeal his initial loss of eligibility to the Big 12 Conference faculty athletics representatives but was first denied in September 2014.
Officials from Oklahoma asked Texas Tech officials to authorize Mayfield’s immediate eligibility, but Texas Tech officials objected and declined the request (before granting a release in July 2014). Mayfield was thus forced to sit out the 2014 season, while also losing one year of eligibility as required by the rules.
On June 1, 2016, the Big 12 faculty athletic representatives voted against a rule proposal that would have allowed walk-on players to transfer within the conference and not lose a year of eligibility. The next day, the rule proposal was amended to allow walk-on players—without a written scholarship offer from the school they are transferring from—to transfer within the conference without losing a season of eligibility. The faculty athletic representatives approved the amended proposal with a vote
of 7–3. The rule change made Mayfield eligible to play for Oklahoma through the 2017 season. Texas Tech voted in favor of the rule.
The Cleveland Browns entered the 2018 season coming off a franchise worst 0 – 16 in 2017, only the second team in NFL history to do so. As they say though, the true measure of success is not how far you fall, but how high you bounce afterward that counts. Suffice to say that when John Dorsey accepted the General Manager in December of 2017, he believed the same.
The Browns opened the season on September 9th at home against the Steelers with a 21 – 21 tie, snapping a 17 game losing streak dating back to the 2016 season. The Browns would go on to drop the next game against the Saints 21 – 18. The next week was a short week as the New York Jets came to Cleveland on Thursday night, September 20th. Trailing 14-0 with 1:42 left in the first half, the Browns starting QB Tyrod Taylor went down with an injury. Mayfield then came on to the field and never looked back. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards that game, leading the Browns to a 21 – 17 victory—their first since 2016. In just 13.5 games, Baker would throw for 3,725 yards, 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions on the year, breaking the NFL record for touchdown passes by a rookie. He was also named NFL Rookie of The Year by the Pro Football Writers of America.
The Browns wound up 7-8-1 on the year, their best year since 2007. With Freddie Kitchens now leading the helm as the official head coach, and the off-season acquisition of arguably the league’s best receiver in Odell Beckham Jr. to add Baker’s weapons, the Dawg Pound’s best years are just around the corner.