Baker Mayfield’s days of dazzling as a Sooner are over. There are no more defenses to dissect or championships to chase. The Heisman Trophy winner has now moved from a Sooners superstar to a Sooners superfan…and still put on a show in his new role.
In his first trip back to Norman, Okla., his first assignment was to talk to the administrators and coaches that were there during his time at Oklahoma. Next, a tribute during the under-12 media timeout of the OU-Texas basketball game. Mayfield walked out on the court, casually hoisting his Heisman Trophy and putting the “Horns Down” gesture towards the student section at Lloyd Noble Center. Then, time came for Oklahoma fans to welcome their sixth Heisman Trophy winner back for the first time:
It did not take long for Mayfield to feel right at home as he took off after the tribute, jumping and raising his arms to try and get the crowd going like he did during his normal gamely routine in an Oklahoma uniform.
He went over to the broadcast table to talk with legendary ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale and Bob Wischusen during the broadcast of the game next, and then finished up talking to the media who covered him during his time in Norman during halftime. It was a jam-packed first half for the former Oklahoma quarterback, but it ended in the only way it could for Mayfield.
“You come to Oklahoma to beat Texas. I was born and raised in Austin. They didn’t recruit me,” he said to the final question of the press conference. “I grew up 15 miles from their campus. I can’t stand them. Anything they do, I don’t care. I talked to the NFL guys, and they said I need to calm it down a little bit, but when it comes to Texas, absolutely not. No. End of story.”
The Heisman winner has spent majority of his time out in north Los Angeles training for the NFL combine since the Rose Bowl. He got away from training for a week in Mobile, Alabama, going through his first round of the NFL Draft process at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Sunday, he was in Fort Worth for a Davey O’Brien banquet. Safe to say, there has not been much time to relax for Mayfield.
“It’s been a crazy journey, hasn’t stopped,” he said. “This is the first I’ve been back to Norman, actually. Since the Senior Bowl, I’ve been training hard, getting ready for the (NFL) combine, setting up my schedule for interviews and what not, going forward after Pro Day. It’s a long process, a waiting game. You guys know me, I’d rather play ball. So I’m excited to get through this process and get back to it.”
He said the most important thing about this process has been to be up front and honest with many of the teams asking him about his off-the-field concerns. Mayfield, to some people’s surprise, participated in the entire week of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, including the game. At the NFL combine, he’s going to go through every event and drill. It’s this competitive nature–to go with his on-the-field skills–that NFL teams are reportedly gravitating to, and he keeps answering the questions those teams have the only way he knows.
“There’s a reason I’m going there and I’m going to throw. I’m going to do everything,” he said. “I’m just going to show what I show on Saturdays is who I am every week, every day–competitive. I’m going to do everything I can to prove I’m still working hard.”
Mayfield got some time and personal space to enjoy the game, but took time to sign autographs and take pictures with crazed fans whenever he could despite security’s best attempt to slow those opportunities down.
He spent time talking to Lincoln Riley’s top football recruits, attempted to wake up a crowd that was in a half snooze, and updated his life ahead of the NFL combine in two weeks…including his real reason about why he hates Texas. In Mayfield’s new role as an Oklahoma superfan, the Sooners sixth Heisman Trophy winner did not disappoint.