While Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield might have been a runaway Heisman Trophy winner during the 2017 college football season, he wasn’t always a lock to take home the sport’s biggest individual award.
After all, Mayfield played for the Texas Tech Red Raiders before becoming a Heisman candidate at Oklahoma, and he was also a — if fans can believe it — walk-on at Oklahoma.
In an ESPN article by Coley Harvey, Mayfield talks about his unconventional route to the Heisman.
“Did you expect me to be here when you talked to me [back then]?” the Austin, Texas, native asked Friday, joking during a media session with a sportswriter who covered him in high school.
Like most of those who had heard at that point of the sub-6-foot quarterback with no major college offers, the reporter sheepishly admitted: “I gotta be honest, no.”
What once seemed improbable for Mayfield has now become reality. The Sooners quarterback is the latest winner of college football’s highest honor, the Heisman Trophy. And as much as he might have wanted this, even he couldn’t have predicted what winning the award would actually be like.
“It’s a dream right now,” Mayfield said.
Mayfield’s Heisman route might have been unconventional, but he dominated the college football scene this season.
Look no further than his stats to figure that out: 4,340 passing yards, 41 touchdown passes, five interceptions, 310 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns.
He didn’t just put up the stats, though, he also helped lead the Sooners to a College Football Playoff appearance. Oklahoma will take on the Georgia Bulldogs on Jan. 1.
During this playoff journey, Mayfield helped lead Oklahoma to victories against the Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma State Cowboys and TCU Horned Frogs (twice). At the time, all three teams were ranked in the top 11.
Oklahoma has one blemish on its resume, if you will, which is a loss against the Iowa State Cyclones, but the team has won eight games in a row since, and the Sooners will also be playing in the College Football Playoff.
More from the ESPN article mentioned above:
“All he wanted was a chance,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “All he wanted was a chance to be the starting quarterback [in high school]. All he wanted was a chance to be the starting quarterback at Texas Tech, Oklahoma and to earn scholarships. When he’s had those chances in his life, he’s proven himself.”
Mayfield is the first player to win the Heisman after walking on to a team. The NCAA didn’t recognize the walk-on concept until 1950.
During his acceptance speech, Mayfield thanked the other finalists and his teammates, coaches and trainers before tearfully crediting his family for their guidance.
“My family, love you guys,” Mayfield said, pausing as tears left his eyes. “There were times that we had to move, and you guys made sacrifice after sacrifice just so I could chase my dreams.
“I wouldn’t be here without you. Love you.”
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) December 10, 2017
Unconventional path or not, Mayfield earned the Heisman Trophy this season, and he now has a chance to add a national championship trophy to his already impressive trophy case for 2017.