NEW YORK — Billy Sims says he already has his speech written for Saturday night when Baker Mayfield is announced as the 83rd Heisman Trophy winner.
“I can’t wait to yell ‘Boomer!’ ” Sims said.
Mayfield, on the other hand, hasn’t planned that far ahead.
“It’s going to be a long list of thank you’s because there’s been a lot of people help me get to this point,” Mayfield said Friday during a media session at the Marriott Marquis. “I’m hoping I get everybody down on there. It’s something that’s going to be hard to truly appreciate and thank everybody who has helped me.”
Mayfield’s answer, of course, was a response to “if you win the Heisman.”
Mayfield won’t allow himself to think ahead, at least not publicly, but we all know he’ll soon join Sims, Billy Vessels, Steve Owens, Jason White, Sam Bradford as owners of the most famous bronze statue in American sport.
And it may be a few years down the line, but Mayfield also will soon join his Sooner Heisman brothers atop a pedestal in OU’s Heisman Park, just east of Memorial Stadium.
“Surreal? Yes. It absolutely is,” Mayfield’s dad, James Mayfield, told The Franchise. “We’re very, very proud of him. He’s absolutely living his dream. This was his vision. I’m not sure I had it. I always knew he’d be big-time, but this exceeds that.”
Mayfield, Stanford running back Bryce Love and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson — last year’s Heisman winner — did 45 minutes of interviews on Friday before getting a little down time and then jumping on a bus tour of Manhattan.
This was a day after Mayfield won the Associated Press National Player of the Year, the Maxwell Award National Player of the Year, the Walter Camp National Player of the Year and the Davey O’Brien quarterback of the year. He landed in New York on Friday morning after a whirlwind awards show at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
“We were talking to Bob (Stoops) yesterday afternoon,” James Mayfield said, “standing outside the College Football Hall of Fame, and I said, ‘Bob, can you believe this is the result of him walking up to you at a team dinner and saying, ‘Hi coach, I’m Baker Mayfield.’ He said, ‘Yeah, and I said, ‘Yeah, so you are, I’ve heard you were here.’ ’ We were just laughing about it. Yeah, fantastic story.”
If Mayfield does indeed take home the hardware Saturday night, it is believed he’ll be the first walk-on to win the award as college football’s most outstanding player. And the reality is, he’ll likely do so in an historic vote, a landslide.
Mayfield was shown a photo of himself from a recruiting website when he was a junior. He stood all of 5-foot-11 and weighed but 190 pounds at the time. Now he’s a legit 6-1 and 215 pounds, and “is pretty chiseled,” his dad says.
“Bake is surpremely self-confident in what he can do,” James Mayfield said. “I think the thing that pushed him to a whole new level in his confidence, even though it was very high already, was when he got bigger. He was proud of himself. He was a big kid.”
“I was a late bloomer,” Mayfield said. “That picture … the guy that didn’t have all the chances in the world but still believed in himself, I just had to work on it more than anybody else.”
Mayfield said “a lot of things” that have served as high-octane fuel over the last six years still drive him today.
“I think working hard for my family, just trying to be the best in anything I do,” he said. “I hate losing. I love winning. It’s something I take pride in. I think my biggest fear would be losing, failing. I work hard to have success, but there’s a lot of time that’s being put in outside of what you see. What counts for that. That’s what drives me.”
Mayfield was in New York last year as a Heisman finalist, but everyone knew he had no chance between Jackson and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. This year, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Mayfield will win. He said Friday that doesn’t really change his experience or expectations of being back, but he acknowledged that winning the award will change his life — especially knowing how he got here, an unwanted, undersized prospect who won the job at Texas Tech and still was refused a scholarship before transferring to a college football blueblood program that already had a quarterback.
“Even my high school coaches and teammates, my buddies from back home, they were a little confused too,” Mayfield said of his decision to leave Texas Tech and transfer to OU, “because we all watched the Sugar Bowl together and watched how (Trevor Knight) played. It was an interesting time for us.”
“Growing up, you dream of going to New York and holding the Heisman Trophy,” Mayfield said. “It being a reality is completely different. It’s been a lot of twists and turns, ups and downs. But for me, I wouldn’t draw it up any differently. It’s made me who I am and I’m proud to be right here right now, and the best is yet to come for me.”
“The most important thing for him,” James Mayfield said, “is the national championship. I mean, he’s dead-ass serious about that. But he’s done his resume, and yeah, it looks like the numbers might serve him well in the Heisman.
Everyone sounds pretty confident. Better start working on that speech.
“I’m sure he will,” James Mayfield said. “He’ll put his thoughts together. He never goes unprepared. He’s done that very, very well. We’re proud of him.”
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard every weekday on The Franchise in Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. with co-host Lauren Rew. In Oklahoma City, catch him Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:25 and every Friday afternoon at 4:05. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.