December 23, 2015

Baker Mayfield Featured on Cover of ESPN the Magazine

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is on the cover of January 4th issue of ESPN The Magazine.

The cover is one of four regional ones featuring previews and players from the schools in the College Football Playoffs.

Inside you'll find a good piece on Oklahoma and Mayfield's journey to College Football Playoffs.

TENNESSEE'S PUBLIC-ADDRESS announcer has just declared that a decibel record has been set at Neyland Stadium, which makes sense because Baker Mayfield and his Oklahoma Sooners can't hear a damn thing. The crowd is so jacked up that in the first quarter, the Vols' coach, Butch Jones, had to wave his arms in the air to remind fans to quiet down when his offense is on the field. But Mayfield gets no reprieve. For three quarters plus, he is chased and harassed, and the roars only grow louder.

It's his second game as the Sooners' starting quarterback, and people in Oklahoma aren't sure what to make of him yet. Is he the fun-loving ringleader from a dance video that went viral last spring? (It's gotten nearly a quarter-million hits, which actually freaks out Mayfield.) Maybe he's a cocksure gunslinger who'll do anything to win? "I'm feelin' real dangerous," Mayfield says whenever someone asks him how he's doing, quoting his favorite line from American Sniper.

And still this question: Does Baker Mayfield even belong here? His whole football life, he has struggled to find his place. The Sooners had already rejected him once. He went on a visit to Oklahoma four years ago, but when he stood in a hallway with three assistant coaches, and their eyes sized him up, Mayfield's dad, a former QB at Houston, knew that look; he knew it was over. Nobody would return James Mayfield's calls after that. His son was too small.

But Baker has grown as tough as titanium from all the snubs. He's grown literally too: a couple of inches to 6-foot-1 (allegedly). And now he is here, trying to lead the Sooners to an unlikely comeback in a deafening Tennessee stadium. "Stay in the moment," his 32-year-old offensive coordinator, Lincoln Riley, tells him on the sideline throughout the game. "Don't worry about what's happened before." His dad, hidden in the mass of orange and white in the stands, is worried. He doesn't think the Sooners can win, especially when they're down 17-3 in the fourth quarter. But then, he didn't see Baker winking and smiling on TV as he was warming up at halftime.


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