We'll forgive you for not knowing the name Baker Mayfield coming into the 2013 season. Mayfield is a true freshman walkon quarterback, after all, and that's about as anonymous as it gets for quarterbacks. Walk-ons in their first year of action never play, much less start, right?
Well, Texas Tech says the hell with that. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury named Mayfield the Week 1 starter, and Mayfield responded for throwing for 413 yards and scoring five total touchdowns in the Red Raiders' season-opening 41-23 romp over SMU.
"He's not a real walk-on player," said Kingsbury of Mayfield after Friday's game. "He had some scholarship offers and for whatever reason at the end they filled up and he fell through the cracks. But 67 touchdowns in high school and eight interceptions and a state championship—he's the real deal."
Now the question is what happens when putative starter Michael Brewer (who, like Mayfield, came from Lake Travis High School in Austin, TX) returns from a back injury that he aggravated in mid-August. Mayfield may have sewn up the starting role when his only competition was a fellow true freshman (Davis Webb), but Brewer's a redshirt sophomore in his third year with the program. This battle's not over.
Mayfield is believed to be the first true freshman walk-on QB to start a season opener for a BCS school, according to ESPN.com. That he went ahead and threw for over 400 yards in the process takes this from the unusual to the surreal.
Mayfield looks to be the next in a long line of prolific Texas Tech QBs, a line that includes Kingsbury himself, who's still only 34 and the youngest coach in the FBS today.
Three Red Raider quarterbacks have won the Sammy Baugh award for the top college quarterback in recent years, and of the five Texas Tech quarterbacks who have thrown for at least 50 career touchdowns, all played within the last fifteen years—starting with Kingsbury, who played from 1999 to 2002.
So if Texas Tech's getting 400 yards from a guy who was in high school last year, it's probably a decent bet that Mayfield is en route to joining that line of highly decorated Red Raiders. In fact, if he stays healthy, the only thing that might keep Mayfield from challenging Harrell's record marks of 15,793 yards and 134 touchdowns is the challenge of keeping the starting role away from Brewer and Webb in the coming weeks, months and years.