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From Walk-On Afterthought to Heisman Winner: The Historic Rise of Baker Mayfield

August 03, 2018 8 min read

From Walk-On Afterthought to Heisman Winner: The Historic Rise of Baker Mayfield

If there's one thing Americans love more than football, it's a comeback story. Combine a comeback story with football? You have an American classic. That's what you have with Baker Mayfield. His entire football career has been a wild comeback story it would seem.

Who's ever heard of a 3-star high school recruit being snubbed by their first-choice school, walking-on to a Power 5 team, start as the quarterback there for 5 games before suddenly transferring to another top football program, and eventually becoming the 1st overall draft pick in the NFL?

If that sounds like a wild, improbable, crazy, one-in-a-million ride. Well, that's because it is! Let's go into detail about the Baker Mayfield football journey: how he went from walk-on to Heisman winner, to the 2018 #1 overall draft pick of the Cleveland Browns.

Early Life and High School Career

Baker Mayfield was born April 14th, 1995 in Austin Texas.

He was the starting quarterback for his high school team, the Lake Travis High School Cavaliers. In the two seasons he played as starting quarterback, his team only had two losses.

In 2011, he led his team to victory as they won the Texas State Championship title. Mayfield completed 25 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown. Throughout his high school career, Mayfield accounted for 67 touchdowns and had 6,255 passing yards.

Despite all of this high school success, Mayfield was only a 3-star recruit and was ranked 43rd QB in the nationBaker Mayfield Sports Memorabilia

Troubles with TCU

Coming from Texas, it's understandable that Mayfield's top choice for college was Texas Christian University. Even though they did recruit him initially, they ended up not offering him a scholarship.

This proved an issue for the young quarterback, as he explained in a later press conference. He thought he was assured by TCU that he would receive a scholarship. He started telling other schools that he couldn't accept their offers based on the promises he thought he got from TCU.

This meant other schools didn't end up offering Mayfield scholarships either. Many recruiters also thought he was too small to play pro, or even college, football. His size was a major factor in him receiving few offers from top programs.

So, without the TCU scholarship, and with what looked like no other options with the exceptions of Rice, New Mexico, and FAU, it started to look rough for Mayfield's football career.

Walk-On at Texas Tech

This is where Mayfield’s luck was about to change. For his freshmen season in 2013, Mayfield was able to walk on to the Texas Tech Red Raiders team, which is one of the best programs in the country and a part of the Big 12 conference. While they already had a starting QB, Mayfield's luck held out: the probable starter, Michael Brewer, was injured in the pre-season.

This set Mayfield up to become the first walk-on to become starting quarterback in for a Power 5 school ever. Yes, ever!

Mayfield quickly went from having only a few offers and being snubbed by his top choice school, to becoming a freshman starting quarterback for one of the best football programs in the country.

He went on to lead the Red Raiders to 5 straight victories, complete with 1,500 passing yards, and an impressive efficiency rating around 150.

Injury Changes His Plans

However, Mayfield would go on to face another hiccup in his plans. He was injured in game 5 with Texas Tech, which led to him missing significant playing time. He became frustrated with the communication between him and the head coach, so he decided to make a change. Baker Mayfield Signed Oklahoma Sooners Helmet

Mayfield announced in December 2013 that he would be transferring. The craziest part about all of this is that Texas Tech didn't offer him a scholarship to continue at the school in the spring, despite leading the team as a freshman and being awarded the best offensive freshman in the Big 12 conference.

So, after the 2013 season, Mayfield decided to transfer within the same conference to Oklahoma.

A Battle at Oklahoma

A few obstacles popped up for Mayfield with this transfer. First of all, Oklahoma already had five scholarship quarterbacks on their team. Mayfield wasn't able to play the 2014 season because of rules regarding transferring schools in the NCAA and the Big 12.

However, that same rule stipulates that the year you sit out counts as a year of eligibility. Mayfield would not only be going to a school that didn’t offer him a scholarship, they had other players at his position already in place, and he would not be able to prove himself on the field for a whole season, a season he would never get back.

Despite this, Mayfield decided to enroll, and was able to win the starting quarterback position for the 2015 season.

2015 Season Yields Big Wins for Mayfield

The comeback kid's luck hadn't run out yet. The Big 12 changed their rule on eligibility. Since Mayfield was a walk-on when he transferred, they allowed him to transfer without losing that one year of eligibility.

This meant that even though he had to sit out for the 2014 season, he was still able to be both offered a scholarship and not lose a year of playing eligibility, which was a big win for Mayfield. He was able to transfer to the Sooners, as well as continue playing for a full 4-year career. Signed Baker Mayfield Oklahoma Sooners Football

Big Plays and Big Wins for Mayfield

Once all that was established, the 2015 season could begin. It was announced that Mayfield would be the starting quarterback for the season opener. He kept this spot for the entirety of his time he wore the Sooner jersey (most sports memorabilia, such as Baker Mayfield jerseys and Baker Mayfield helmets, are from his time as a Sooner).

His first game as a Sooner was a blowout. In a 41-3 win, Mayfield had a total of 388 passing yards and 3 touchdowns.

He continued to dominate throughout this first season. In his second game, he lived up to his comeback kid reputation by overcoming a 17-point deficit in double overtime in a win against the University of Tennessee.

He finished the season with a whopping 36 touchdowns and 3,700 passing yards. He was in the running for the Heisman but ended up fourth. He also led his team to the 2015 Orange Bowl, where they unfortunately lost to Clemson.

Mayfield Continued to Dominate in the 2016 Season

Mayfield was able to rise to basic stardom in his third season as a college player, which is especially impressive for a player many people considered too small to play college football.

The 2016 season was big for Mayfield and the Sooners: they went undefeated in the Big 12 conference and only had two overall losses. Mayfield led the Sooners to a 2017 Sugar Bowl victory against Auburn 35-19.

Mayfield had almost 4,000 passing yards and finished the season with 40 touchdowns. He was also eligible for the Heisman in 2016, which he did not win.

Mayfield's Awesome 2017 Season Made Complete with the Heisman

After two years chasing the Heisman trophy, 2017 was Mayfield's year. Thanks to the rule changes discussed earlier, he actually got to play the 2017 season. If the rules hadn't been adjusted, then 2016 would've been his last eligible year.

Before we get to the Heisman, let's look at his senior season that elevated him to Heisman level.

Regular Season

One of the biggest games in his football career was the OU vs. Ohio State game. Oklahoma was ranked at the number 7 spot vs the number 2 ranked Ohio State, and they would have to travel to Columbus, a place where the Buckeyes rarely lose. When Mayfield led the Sooners to a 31-16 victory with 386 passing yards and 3 touchdowns, it cemented Mayfield as a Sooner legend, and made him one of the front runners for the Heisman in the eyes of many. Heisman Trophy Autographed Baker Mayfield JerseyMayfield continued to dominate the season with blowout wins against UTEP (56-7), Tulane (56-14), Kansas (41-3), and Mayfield's old school TCU (41-17). He also proved that he can come through in tough situations, with narrow wins against Baylor (49-41), Texas (29-24), and Oklahoma State (62-52).

Overall, Mayfield led the Sooners to yet another dominant season, and their third straight Big 12 Championship Title after beating TCU. While the Sooners did lose the Rose Bowl to Georgia, Mayfield's season was the best of his career.

Season Stats

Baker Mayfield's senior season is considered to be his best. With 4,627 passing yards, 43 touchdowns, and only 6 interceptions thrown.

Baker Mayfield - Heisman Trophy Winner (Finally)

Mayfield was up for the Heisman for the third time. This time, he was awarded the prestigious trophy over Bryce Love, Saquon Barkley, and Lamar Jackson, who was the 2016 trophy winner.

However, as with most things concerning Mayfield, he took it to a whole different level. Not only did he win the Heisman as a senior (the first since 2006), he won by the greatest percentage of votes in Heisman history (with approximately 86% of the votes for 1st).Oklahoma Sooners Baker Mayfield Signed Jersey

He's also the first player to ever have 3 top 4 Heisman placements in the history of the trophy. One more first for Mayfield with his Heisman win is that he's the first trophy winner to have started as a walk-on player.

Along with all of these personal and historical successes, his win bumped OU to being tied for having the second most Heisman trophy winners in history (with USC).

It's no surprise that Mayfield was the clear winner after the season he had: over 4,600 passing yards, over 40 touchdowns, and the best passing rating in Heisman history (203.76).

Baker Mayfield Becomes the #1 Overall Draft Pick

Despite all of this success, championship titles, and personal records, the media wasn't hyped on his NFL chances. Sure, they thought he would get drafted, but people were skeptical about whether he would make the first round. Some even said that they predicted he would "struggle to succeed" in the NFL. Baker Mayfield Signed Cleveland Browns Mini Helmet

Mayfield lived up to his comeback kid and "prove them wrong" reputation one more time. He was drafted as the number one overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. He's been signed to a 4-year $32.68-million-dollar deal with the Cleveland Browns.

So now in addition to being able to find autographed sports memorabilia from his time as a Sooner, but you can begin to collect Baker Mayfield signed sports memorabiliaas a pro-football player with the Cleveland Browns.

Despite talk throughout his career that he wasn't big enough to play pro ball or that he would "struggle to succeed" in the NFL, the Browns head coach has recently said that Mayfield is exceeding all expectations and is doing very well training with the big boys.

As the 2018 NFL season approaches, we're excited to see whether Baker Mayfield will take the field. Whatever this case, this awesome player has a long career in front of him after fighting against the odds to make it to the big leagues.

Baker Mayfield: A Comeback Story That Made History

Signed Baker Mayfield Oklahoma Sooners/Cleveland Browns FootballThere are some names in football that will go down in history for their competitive edge, their talent, their charisma, and their drive to succeed against the odds. Bo Jackson, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and now, Baker Mayfield. 

For a talented kid who started off as an under-recruited player, who was forced to walk-on to a team when he should've easily been offered a scholarship at a big-time program, his rise to success is both impressive and astounding. It just shows how driven and talented he is to prove everyone wrong, and go from walk-on Freshman to Heisman winner, to the # 1 NFL draft pick.

Want to grab some Baker Mayfield memorabilia after reading his story? We don't blame you. Check out our selection of both collegiate and pro football sports memorabilia signed by the man himself.

You can also check out our blog for more epic stories of the best athletes of our time, the latest sports news, and much, much more.

Autographed Baker Mayfield Sports Memorabilia


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