Saturday, December 9, 2017

Baker Mayfield wins 83rd Heisman Trophy and becomes the first walk-on to win

Photo Credit: Brad Penner- USA TODAY Sports
By: Jeff Hauser
Twitter: @radiohauser

NEW YORK—Baker Mayfield returned to Oklahoma before the start of the season with two accomplishments in mind. After tonight, one of those became history as the Sooners quarterback was named the 83rd winner of the Heisman Trophy.

“It’s such an honor,” Mayfield said on the stage of the PlayStation Theater. “It’s unbelievable.

Mayfield became the sixth winner in Oklahoma history and the first since Sam Bradford in 2008. A perfect ending to an outstanding regular season for the Austin, Texas native, who completed 71 percent of his passes for 4,340 yards and 41 touchdowns this season. Mayfield is the first walk-on player in college football history to win a Heisman with an 86 percent margin, the third-best since 1950. This marks the first time in over a decade that a senior has won the award (2006- Ohio State’s Troy Smith).

Tonight was a clear answer to the critics that questioned Mayfield’s integrity as a Heisman finalist. When asked if adding “Heisman winner” to his name forever and made him feel tied down to that, Mayfield responded adamantly by saying “It’s not a burden, it’s a privilege to have that behind your name.

Mayfield is the eighth Heisman winner born in Texas and the 11th player from a current Big 12 school to win the Heisman and first since Robert Griffin III (Baylor) in 2011. He is the 33rd quarterback to win the award and the 15th in the last 17 years.

For Mayfield, the Heisman is added to Associated Press player of the year, Big 12 player of the year,  Maxwell, and Walter Camp awards collected within the last two weeks. Mayfield's 203.8 passer rating is the best in college football history along with 11.8 yards per attempt. OU coach Lincoln Riley took on Mayfield as a mentor even before taking over for Bob Stoops in the off-season.

“He’s just taking advantage of opportunities, like (Baker) has his entire life,” Riley said about this season. “All he wanted was a chance to be the starting quarterback at Lake Travis. All he wanted was a chance to be the starting quarterback at Texas Tech and Oklahoma.

Mayfield finished with a total of 732 first-place votes, a total of 2,398 points. Stanford running back Bryce Love came in second among voters with 75 first-place votes (1,300 points) and last year’s winner— Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson came in third with 47 first-place votes (793 points).

Other players in the voting order:

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley (304 points)
San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny (175 points)
Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor (58 points)
Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph (56 points)
Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton (54 points)
Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson (45 points)  
Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith (38 points)

Lost in the shuffle from Mayfield’s landslide win is that 31 of the 929 Heisman voters did not have their vote tabulated in this year’s race and a total of 43 players received votes.

Baker’s best words of the night came as he was wrapping up his press conference. His message to student-athletes that walk-on to a program and looking to follow in his footsteps were simple.

“There has got to be self confidence,” Mayfield said. “Between social media and all sorts of things in today’s age there is a lot of negativity. And there is something to be said about having confidence in yourself. For me, my journey, like I said earlier, is not over, but it’s about facing adversity. If there is mistakes, being upfront about it and moving forward to be better in the future.

Mayfield and the Sooners prepare for the College Football Playoff semifinal on New Year’s Day at the Rose Bowl with the No. 3 ranked Georgia Bulldogs-- A great start to the end of his illustrious collegiate career.