Baker Mayfield walked on at Texas Tech, then transferred to Oklahoma and walked on there. Ultimately, he took the stage at PlayStation Theater in Manhattan on Saturday night to accept college football’s greatest individual award, becoming the first walk-on to walk off with the Heisman Trophy.
The senior quarterback ran away with it, becoming the 83rd winner by earning 732 first-place votes — fifth in Heisman history — and 2,398 points, the third-highest percentage (.860) in history.
Stanford running back Bryce Love finished second with 1,300 points and the 82nd winner, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, was third with 793.
Mayfield has completed a nation-high 71 percent of his throws, good for 4,340 yards and 41 touchdowns, and has been intercepted only five times. He also has rushed for 310 yards and five TDs. It’s little wonder the No. 2 Sooners are 12-1 and in the final four.
His best game came in a 62-52 victory at rival Oklahoma State on Nov. 4 as he threw for a school-record 598 yards and five touchdowns and ran for another.
“It’s been a tough journey,” Mayfield said.
After receiving just a handful of FBS offers coming out of high school in Texas, Mayfield took the non-scholarship route to Texas Tech. He started seven games as a true freshman in 2013, then left in December. “It came down to not having [a scholarship] there and also following my dreams,” he said. “I dreamt of playing for OU. Quite frankly, my heart wasn’t in it there.”
He transferred to Oklahoma for the second semester without speaking to then-coach Bob Stoops. Mayfield finally had his scholarship early that fall, but he had to sit out the season. He claimed the starting role for the next one and finished fourth in the Heisman voting. Last year, he moved up to third as a finalist.
The year didn’t start well, though. Mayfield was arrested for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, fleeing and resisting arrest in Arkansas in February. He wrote on Twitter that he was sorry.
“He’s made mistakes, but he’s owned up to them like a man,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said.
Mayfield also is known for his brazen antics. For instance, he gained notoriety after a win at Ohio State on Sept. 9 for trying to plant the OU flag inside the Buckeyes’ logo at midfield. That prompted another apology.
He continued to be college football’s leader in apologies after what happened in Lawrence, Kansas, on Nov. 18. The Jawhawks’ captains refused to shake his hand before the game. In the third quarter, Mayfield retaliated by making a lewd gesture toward the Kansas players from the sideline, punctuated by a profane phrase.
That cost him the start and his captaincy for his final home game, against West Virginia.
“I think the high competitors, the ones who play with an edge, there’s a switch that you flip when you step on a field,” Mayfield said.
Said Riley, “All he wanted was a chance. When he’s had those chances throughout his life, he’s proven himself.”