Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield entered the Big 12 as a walk-on. He enrolled at Texas Tech without a scholarship in 2013. Since then, Mayfield has created an almost unparalleled legacy among Big 12 players.
“You could tell he was a very good player and really talented,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “We were excited about his future.”
He soon decided to transfer to Oklahoma – his favorite childhood team. Since then, Mayfield has transformed into one of the greatest quarterbacks in conference history, if not college football history.
“I’ve never coached against [a player] that’s better,” Kansas coach David Beaty said. “That’s high praise because I’ve been fortunate enough to be on the sideline against some terrific players.”
Beaty coached in the Big 12 in 2008-09 and 2011. Then, he coached in the SEC from 2012 to 2014. More notably, Beaty was the wide receivers coach when Johnny Manziel was at Texas A&M in 2012 and 2013.
“I watch [Mayfield] every week to see what he’s going to do,” Beaty said. “That’s one thing I remember from when I was at Texas A&M. I remember people telling me all the time they were watching just to see what Johnny’s going to do because he was that special. [Baker] reminds me a lot of that guy.”
Mayfield ranks No. 3 on the all-time Big 12 passing charts with 14,077 yards. Only Landry Jones and Graham Harrell rank ahead. He also ranks top 10 in passing touchdowns, completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating.
In fact, Mayfield ranks No. 10 on the all-time passing list despite only starting part-time as a freshman. That’s good enough for No. 4 among Power Five quarterbacks. Two of the three players ahead of him were Mike Leach quarterbacks. He also trails only Sam Bradford in career passer rating.
If Mayfield plays in three more games – a Big 12 title and two College Football Playoff games – he could potentially reach the top five in career passing yards in FBS history. That’s quite an accomplishment for a walk-on.
Mayfield made opposing coaching staffs miserable for three years at Oklahoma with his ability. His ability to make plays both inside and outside of the pocket is special among college football players. Pro Football Focus consistently rates him the best draft-eligible quarterback in the country at making passing plays all over the field.
“When you have a guy who can throw it over your head, it makes you defend him differently,” Baylor coach Matt Rhule said. “He’s a guy who can make plays at all three levels of the defense.”
Mayfield’s ability even received comparisons to some of the loftiest players in the history of college football.
“I think the two guys that over the 100 years I’ve been in this conference that can make a play when things break down are him and Vince Young,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “He’s probably better than Vince at making something out of nothing.”
Young, of course, led Texas to the 2005 national championship. He’s regarded by many as the best quarterback in Big 12 history. Former Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh and Bradford are also in contention for best player.
After a dynamic career at Oklahoma, Mayfield belongs firmly in that conversation. If he can lead the Sooners to their first national championship since 2000, he has a pretty good case for No. 1 on the list.
“He had a great career [at Oklahoma],” Kingsbury said. “I’m excited to see where he’s going and hopefully he brings that Heisman home to the Big 12.”
Big 12 Quarterback Comparison
|Player||Pass yards||Rush yards||Completion %||Yards per attempt||Total TDs||INTs||Passer rating|
|Robert Griffin III||10,366||2,254||67.1||9.4||111||17||158.9|
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