Baker Mayfield grew up 20 miles from The University of Texas.
Mayfield blossomed into a quarterback phenom in the Longhorns’ backyard. Now, the lifelong Sooners fan and the one-time Texas Tech Red Raider prepares to try and lead No. 10 Oklahoma to victory as its starting quarterback against his school’s biggest rival.
An ironic scenario for the kid who grew up right by Texas, but chose to root for the other team.
“That’s what a lot of people ask,” Mayfield said about his OU fandom in a 2014 Q&A with ESPN. “I traveled to OU games, because my dad used to play and old coaches would give us tickets … I used to go to like two games a year before hitting high school football.”
Mayfield played at Lake Travis High School in Austin – a half-hour drive from UT-Austin. In two seasons as Lake Travis’ starting quarterback, he threw for 6,255 yards with 67 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.
He dreamed of playing for a Big 12 school, and when TCU began to recruit him hard, he thought his dream would become a reality. But it didn’t. The Horned Frogs never offered him a scholarship. Mayfield became desperate. He searched for a place to play as a walk-on, and one of his first schools of contact was Texas. But he didn’t go.
“[It] didn’t seem like it was a warm welcome or that it was too inviting,” Mayfield said at Oklahoma’s Monday luncheon. “So that added a little bit of insult to the injury.”
Mayfield walked on at Texas Tech. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury thrust Mayfield into the starting role after quarterback Michael Brewer suffered a back injury.
Mayfield became the first true freshman walk-on to start a season opener in NCAA history. His first game against SMU added to his hype — Mayfield completed a school-record 43 passes on 60 attempts and racked up 413 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
His first season vindicated his talent. Mayfield was awarded the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year award, despite being limited to eight games that season due to
Then, Mayfield left after his freshman year at Tech. He cited a lack of communication between Kingsbury and himself, his lack of playing time after recovering from injury and scholarship issues as the reasons for his departure.
He bolted to Oklahoma.
“OU was where I’ve always wanted to go,” Mayfield said in 2014.
Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops is still befuddled at Mayfield’s journey to his team.Stoops didn’t know Mayfield was headed his way.
“I was hearing the rumors that he was transferring to Oklahoma,” Stoops said at Oklahoma’s media day on Aug. 8. “I’ve never talked to the guy. He’s never called to ask if he could … [It was] maybe the strangest thing that has ever happened in my coaching career.”
Mayfield sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules after his appeal to play was denied. Through four games this season, Mayfield and the Sooners sit at 4-0. He’s compiled 1382 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He’s ready to face the school that, in his eyes, ignored him as a senior at Lake Travis High School.
“I grew up right in their backyard and getting overlooked like that is always frustrating,” Mayfield said. “There is a chip on my shoulder when we play a team that’s familiar.”
Saturday, that scar can heal.