We're officially less than one week away from embarking on the 2018 Oklahoma Sooners’ chase for eight. With six days remaining in our Countdown to Kickoff, there was at least one player who was an absolute no-brainer for today’s edition. While stars like Thomas Lott and Antwone Savage represented the Sooners well, it was Baker Mayfield who forever changed the way we see the No. 6 in the Crimson & Cream.
Through a college football lens, Austin, Texas is home to the Longhorns, the Forty Acres, and more burnt orange than I can stomach. But among all that orange, a blip of Crimson was born. Fast-forward 18 years, and the legend of Baker Mayfield took flight.
Before Mayfield made his ascension in Norman, his path led him to Lubbock, where he walked on at Texas Tech. His talent was apparent, but some coaches had their reservations about truly giving him a chance — or at least a chance that was bound to a scholarship. Whatever their reasoning was, Mayfield was determined to prove his mettle.
After starting for the Red Raiders as a true freshman in 2013, he went down with an injury mid-season, further preventing him from securing the starting job long-term. Long story short, when Mayfield realized he wouldn’t be earning a scholarship or the starting spot any time soon, he decided to restart from square one at the school of his dreams. Additionally, he did so knowing full well that Trevor Knight had just played the game of his life against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Following a blocked transfer, Mayfield was forced to sit out for what appeared to be a greyshirt season. When he was finally eligible to play, he left no doubt about who the man for the job happened to be. Right away, he took over the offense implemented by newly-hired offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. More than that, he showed an exuberant leadership quality unlike anything ever seen at Oklahoma. It was contagious throughout the locker room. Then he backed it up.
In his inaugural ‘15 season, his biggest moments of heroism both came on the road in highly anticipated contests. The first was in Knoxville, when Mayfield led the Sooners to an epic comeback victory in double overtime against the Tennessee Volunteers.
The second happened in Waco. Art Briles and the Baylor Bears were coming off back-to-back conference titles, and they were poised to make it a three-peat. Mayfield had different intentions.
That season ended with Oklahoma’s first College Football Playoff appearance, which culminated in a losing effort against Clemson. Mayfield and the Sooners were determined to make it back to that stage.
The 2016 season was a bit of a frustrating one, only because after starting the season 1-2 with losses to Houston and Ohio State, it was nearly impossible to return to the CFP. Still, Oklahoma rebounded and ran the table from that point on, with Mayfield and fellow Heisman Trophy finalist/Biletnikoff Award winner Dede Westbrook leading the way. After defeating the Auburn Tigers in the Sugar Bowl in convincing fashion, expectations were high going into the fall of 2017.
Some wondered if Mayfield would have the same success after Westbrook, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon all departed for the NFL, not to mention his former head coach Bob Stoops stepping down in the same offseason. While those were understandably causes for concern at the time, the QB showed the nation who the true heart and soul of the team had always been.
In Week 2, at the Horseshoe in Columbus, Ohio, a top-five matchup between the Sooners and the Buckeyes grabbed the nation’s attention. In dominant fashion, Mayfield proved once again why he was the best quarterback in the game.
Oh, and he capped off the night with the flag-plant heard ‘round the world.
Baker Mayfield planting the Oklahoma flag in the middle of the Ohio State O at the Horseshoe is as savage as it gets. pic.twitter.com/PrtgtUvmzL— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) September 10, 2017
Mayfield led OU to the first Big 12 Championship Game since 2010 (the last time it had been played), and lit up the TCU Horned Frogs for the second time in less than a month. The very next weekend, he found himself back in New York, only this time his name was announced, becoming Oklahoma’s sixth Heisman Trophy winner, and the first player to win as former walk-on.
A trip back to the playoffs was set, and the Sooners squared off against the SEC champion Georgia Bulldogs. In a Rose Bowl for the ages, Mayfield and Oklahoma fell just short of advancing to the national title game, losing to UGA in double-OT. It was a painful way to end the Mayfield era, but it did nothing to diminish the incredible career he turned in.
For his career as a Sooner, Mayfield finished with 12,292 passing yards, 119 passing touchdowns, 893 rushing yards, 18 rushing touchdowns and a 34-6 record. He also never lost a true road game. In 2017 alone, he won the Maxwell, Walter Camp and Davey O’Brien Awards, and was named AP, Sporting News and Big 12 Player of the Year. He was also a Unanimous First-Team All-American (‘17).
It was only fitting that a player with his accolades go on to become the first overall pick, and that’s how the Cleveland Browns spent their top selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.
With the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma pic.twitter.com/2gNsc0UnKD— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) April 27, 2018
If Mayfield is able to lead the Browns out of the league’s gutter and into respectability, it’ll be another notch on his belt. And no matter what he does at the next level, he has forever changed the way the Sooner Nation views the No. 6.
Now let’s take a closer look at the two aforementioned players who also sported the No. 6.
Quarterback Thomas Lott
From 1975 to 1978, Thomas Lott helmed Barry Switzer’s wishbone offense, and is considered one of The King’s best QB’s of all-time. The San Antonio native was a stocky field general, but don’t let his thickness fool you, because this cat could scoot. He stepped into the starting role from ‘76-’78, winning three conference titles. In total, he amassed 1,992 yards and 28 touchdowns on the ground, and he added 834 yards and 10 scores through the air.
Original Do-rag master...Thomas Lott pic.twitter.com/yKBdfzt1Lg— Sooner Demon (@soonerscorpio) August 26, 2018
Wide receiver Antwone Savage
When Bob Stoops arrived on the scene in 1999, so too did Antwone Savage. For as electrifying as this big-play master was, he was also consistent. For four seasons, Savage torched defenses over the top, and he also did damage as a kickoff returner. He was a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2000, during Oklahoma’s national championship run. By the end of his Sooner career, the Albany, Georgia product recorded 1,931 receiving yards on 150 receptions, with 13 of those going for touchdowns.
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