NORMAN, Okla. – With the NFL Draft quickly approaching, a former OU football star is now speaking out about his attitude on the field.
It’s no secret that Baker Mayfield plays with a chip on his shoulder.
While taking the world of college football by storm, Mayfield became the sixth OU football player to become a Heisman Trophy winner.
However, his senior season didn’t go by without his share of missteps.
After beating Ohio State at home 31-16, Mayfield attempted to plant an OU flag in the middle of the “O” at midfield as a celebration.
Mayfield had to make another apology following his actions during the Kansas game. While OU was on its way to a blowout win over Kansas, Mayfield stunned coaches when he made a crude gesture on the sidelines.
“What I did today, tonight was unacceptable. I am a competitive player but what I did is unacceptable so I apologize. It’s disrespectful, it’s not the example I want to set, it’s not the legacy I want to leave at OU, so I truly do apologize,” Mayfield said. As punishment, Mayfield did not start against West Virginia and was not listed as a captain.
After the season came to an end with the Sooners’ overtime loss to Georgia in the Rose Bowl, Mayfield is now taking a look back at his attitude on the field.
In an article published in The Players’ Tribune, Mayfield says it all started when he realized that he was smaller than most other players on the field. He says he always dreamed of getting a scholarship offer from the Sooners, but quickly learned that he wasn’t a top recruit after high school.
“It wasn’t long after I got there that I realized I wasn’t really a priority. You could tell which recruits the coaching staff was giving a little extra attention to, and I wasn’t one of them. Eventually I got to introduce myself to a couple of coaches, and they kind of gave me a look up and down, noticed my size and that was that. It would be the last time I heard from OU for a couple of years.
The car ride home was almost entirely silent. It was a big blow for me. Being passed over by my dream program with one look turned out to be a pretty important moment in my life. It made that chip I’ve always had on my shoulder bigger than it’s ever been. It pushed me to work even harder to prove that I belonged. And in the end, I think it’s a big part of why I did end up where I belong,” Mayfield wrote.
Mayfield went on to explain that some of his worst moments happened because others got under his skin.
“The truth is, I’m always going to remember what it was like being that kid who was too small to even be given a second look. I’m going to remember what it feels like to be doubted and how amazing it feels to overcome that doubt. In order to be my best, I need to play with an edge,” he wrote.
“Sometimes my passion has been mistaken for immaturity- and there definitely were some moments when I was out of line that I ultimately apologized for. But these past four years, I was living out my lifelong dream, and I’m proud that I did it on my terms.”
Mayfield went on to talk about learning that Bob Stoops was retiring, and that Lincoln Riley was taking over the program.
He says Stoops’ retirement was ‘like a punch in the stomach,’ but says that he knew that Riley would do the job well.
“What Lincoln does particularly well is that he thrives on actually communicating rather than yelling. That’s why he’s managed to rise up the coaching ranks so fast. The way he builds up personal relationships is a direct reflection of his success. As [a] team, we lost some games, but we always felt prepared to play. Straight up, I wouldn’t be where I am without Lincoln Riley, and I’m looking forward to staying close with him as both of us progress in our careers,” he wrote.
Mayfield also had a message to Sooner fans who supported him, and even those who didn’t.
“There’s a special place in my heart for all the Sooner fans out there. It doesn’t feel right to call this a goodbye because I was a Sooner long before I enrolled at OU, and I’ll be a Sooner long after my playing days are over. So this isn’t the last you’ll see of me in Norman, not by a longshot. To all of you who supported me over the years, and even those who doubted me, I appreciate you. Nothing about this has been easy, but nothing that’s worthwhile ever is.
This has been the experience of a lifetime, and regardless of what comes next, I’ll always remember what it was like to be that unheralded walk-on who snuck onto the field to get a few extra reps in. Thank you for giving me a shot.”
The NFL Draft will be held from April 26 to April 28.