NEW YORK — Never have I stumped Baker Mayfield the way I did inside a Marriott Marquis ballroom in Manhattan, New York, around 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.
A little more than two hours away from hearing his name called as the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner, Mayfield took a pause after I asked him how playing at OU has changed his life.
For Mayfield, it’s been the best things that’s ever happened to him, which is something I can relate to as a fifth-year senior at OU.
Mayfield and I were both college freshmen in 2013, and by some amazing luck, my time covering Sooner football lined up perfectly with Mayfield’s legendary career in Norman.
So, as I sat there listening to Mayfield’s answer and then a few minutes later grabbing dinner with the Oklahoma media in New York, I also reflected on my time in Norman.
When I first started at OU, I couldn’t have imagined I’d cover a College Football Playoff or a Heisman Trophy presentation. But there I was, a week away from graduating from college, in snowy Times Square witnessing Mayfield win college football’s premier individual award after scoffing at rumors of his transfer back in early 2014.
I won’t forget when we, the media, spoke with Mayfield for the first time after he was announced as OU’s starter ahead of the 2015 season. Hearing him speak at the podium after being introduced as “Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield” was a surreal moment for me.
Mayfield’s story is about as unrealistic of a plot that you can imagine. The stories I have written regarding his career read more like a Friday Night Lights episode, considering he has the stature of Matt Saracen, the swagger of Smash Williams and the antics of Tim Riggins.
It was back in April, however, when I first pitched an idea for an independent study to Seth Prince, The Daily’s digital adviser, to publish a series profiling each Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winner and releasing each story leading up to the 2017 ceremony.
We had no clue whether Mayfield would be invited or even considered for the award at the time, but we rolled the dice.
I felt like there was no better time to tell these stories, and even if Mayfield didn’t win, the work I’ve done in detailing all of OU’s Heisman winners is something I couldn’t be more proud of.
This weekend, albeit a business trip, was a nice treat as I approach graduation this upcoming Saturday. It was the best way to cap this project that we’ve worked on for months, but has been years in the making.
I have so many people to thank for making my vision possible. As I sit in LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York, on a Sunday at 3 p.m. ET writing this, I can’t believe the ride is over for me. Although, for Mayfield and Oklahoma football, they still have two more to go.
If the past three years have been any indication, I expect the most epic ending to the future “30 for 30” documentary unfolding right in front of us.