Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield Could End Senior Drought for Heisman Trophy

baker mayfield

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 2:06 PM GMT

Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2017 2:06 PM GMT

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is a rare two-time Heisman finalist. He’s also a senior, another rarity for a big-name player in college football. Can Mayfield end the senior drought and win the Heisman in 2017?

Star Seniors A Rare Breed In NCAA

If you watch an NBA Draft, the majority of players taken in any first round these days are college freshmen or sophomores or 19-year-old international players. NBA teams draft on potential and the thinking is that if a guy doesn’t come out until after his senior season, then he’s obviously not all that great. Plus he’s already old.  

It’s a similar line of thinking in college football. If you were good enough to dominate as a collegian, then you should declare for the draft after your redshirt sophomore or junior season. Players can only declare if they are three years out of high school.

So perhaps it’s not a huge surprise a senior hasn’t won a Heisman Trophy since Ohio State’s Troy Smith in 2006. The best players generally don’t play college football as seniors; they are already getting paid to play on Sundays. The Buckeyes’ Smith wasn’t a top pro prospect. The last senior before him to win the Heisman was USC’s Carson Palmer in 2002 and he was a top prospect, going No. 1 in that year’s draft. You simply aren’t going to see that very often.

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Mayfield Looks To Become 6th OU Heisman Winner

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield has the shortest 5Dimes Heisman odds of +850 among all seniors, as he should as a two-time finalist for college football’s biggest individual award. Last year, Mayfield finished third behind Louisville QB Lamar Jackson and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. Mayfield completed 71 percent of his passes (No. 1 nationally) for 3,965 yards, 40 touchdowns and eight picks. His rating of 196.4 was easily tops in the country.

In 2015, Mayfield was fourth in the Heisman voting behind Alabama running back Derrick Henry, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and Clemson’s Watson. Mayfield completed 68.1 percent of his passes for 3,700 yards, 36 TDs and seven picks.

Mayfield is the only player in school history to throw for at least 5,000 yards (7,665) and rush for at least 500 (582) in a career. He has accounted for 89 touchdowns, the most by a player in the first 26 games of an OU career. He’s also first at OU in career completion percentage (.695; Sam Bradford ranks second at .676) and career passing efficiency rating (184.28; Bradford second at 175.62). Not bad for a former walk-on! In fact, Mayfield could go down as one of the greatest walk-ons in NCAA history.

So is Mayfield good value at +850 on college football odds to win Oklahoma’s first Heisman since Bradford in 2008? I doubt it. He lost top receiver Dede Westbrook, also a 2016 Heisman finalist who caught 80 balls for 1,524 yards and 17 scores a year ago. OU’s top two running backs, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, also went pro. Mayfield likely didn’t turn pro because he isn’t considered a first-round prospect yet. Most NFL Draft big boards I’ve seen for the Class of 2018 list him as the No. 8 QB prospect.

Another reason Mayfield stayed is the Big 12 passed a rule that allowed him to play one more season. Mayfield transferred from Texas Tech to Oklahoma following the 2013 season, his freshman year, and originally 2016 would have been Mayfield’s final season of eligibility in that conference. But last summer, the Big 12 changed one of its rules involving walk-on transfers.

Mayfield has been in the news this offseason for the wrong reasons. He was arrested Feb. 25 in Fayetteville. Dash cam footage later released showed police tackling Mayfield into a wall after he tried to run from the scene. He has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of public intoxication, disorderly conduct and fleeing. Also, Oklahoma saw long-time head coach Bob Stoops retire, although that shouldn’t affect Mayfield much if at all with offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley promoted to the top job.

The Sooners will be a preseason Top 10 team with 16 starters due back overall. They are -112 to win a third straight Big 12 title and given a win total of 9.5. OU likely will be favored in every regular-season game but Sept. 9 at Ohio State and perhaps Nov. 4 at Oklahoma State.

I can see Mayfield being a Heisman finalist again, but he won’t win it. Take the field, albeit it a big price.

Free NCAAF Pick: Field -1250Best Line Offered: 5Dimes
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