Oklahoma Sooners

Baker Mayfield’s Q&A with Dick Vitale, Bob Wischusen

NCAA Basketball: Texas at Oklahoma

As Oklahoma hosted Texas on Saturday in the second meeting of the basketball version of the “Red River Rivalry,” the Sooners had a special guest — OU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Want proof?

Mayfield had the Heisman in tow and spent some time with the ESPN announcers broadcasting the game, Bob Wischusen and Dick Vitale. To my knowledge it’s the first time Vitale has done a Big 12 game during conference play, and ESPN billed the game as a freshman phenoms game, as they highlighted OU’s Trae Young and Texas’ Mo Babma throughout.

It was a pretty typical in-game ESPN interview — plenty of softballs, as Vitale educated Mayfield on “Broadway Joe” and Wischusen gently lobbied the Jets to take Mayfield to make his gig as the Jets’ radio play-by-play voice a bit more enjoyable. But Mayfield also talked about what he’s working on now, in terms of draft prep, and why he believes he’s different than some of the Big 12 quarterbacks that have failed to make it in the NFL. The full transcript of the interview is below, with minor edits for clarity and brevity.

Vitale: New York is looking for a QB, both the Giants and the Jets. How would you like to be in the Big Apple with your personality?

Mayfield: I would love it. I would love it. I’ve had some people start with some nicknames. I’ve heard ‘Broadway Baker’ So we’ll see.

Vitale: There’s only one Broadway and that’s ‘Broadway Joe.’ Remember him? Joe Namath, Joe Willie Namath.

(during that exchange there is video of Mayfield giving the Sooners student section the ‘Down Horns’ sign during a timeout).

Wischusen: (jokingly) I think what we’re is trying to do is to get you to come out of your shell. I think if we can do that and find your personality you’ll be a winner.

Vitale: He makes me look shy. He makes ME look shy.

Mayfield: We got ‘em rattled now, we got ‘em rattled now (said after a Longhorns turnover).

Wischusen: Let me ask you about this (OU) team we’re watching now. You’ve been the focal point of this football program and you, more than anyone else, probably understand what Trae Young is going through as the focal point, not just of your basketball program but of all of college basketball. Have you talked with him? What advice would you give him? Because he’s struggled lately.

Mayfield: I have talked with him because I couldn’t imagine going through what I’ve gone through the last year and a half as an 18-year old straight out of high school. The fame that he’s gotten, the way he’s played, he deserves all the fan recognition he’s had. But it’s so much to deal with and I respect him on so many levels. But the one thing I keep telling him is, ‘Enjoy it, never forget where you came from or the people that helped you get there along the way.’ You have to appreciate those things.

Vitale: What do you think you have to work on in your game in order to get ready to go to the next level?

Mayfield: Right now it’s about footwork, making the transition under center. It’s not as big a deal as people might say. You look at the great teams now, Brady is rarely under center, Aaron Rodgers is rarely under center. So we’re making some minor changes here and there but it’s about repetition more than anything.

Vitale: I’ll tell you one thing about people recognizing you. I was down in Florida for a basketball game and the Oklahoma University gymnastics team was there.

Mayfield: Oh, they’re good!

Vitale: And I said to them ‘Who’s the big man on campus? Is it Baker? Is it Trae? And all those girls in unison started cheering, ‘Baker, Baker, Baker!’

Mayfield: Recognition from there is pretty special.

Vitale: You’re a great story for younger kids about never believing you can’t. You go to college, you’re a walk-on and here you’re standing with the biggest prize you can get in football, a Heisman. What was it like to climb to that level?

Mayfield: It was a wild ride. It was a journey that wasn’t the way I drew it up by any means, but it was an unbelievable experience. I was incredibly blessed. I had so much help along the way, so many great coaches and teammates that made it so much fun. A lot of times it wasn’t as much fun as it should have been, but I had a lot of help along the way.

Wischusen: If I’m an NFL personnel evaluator and I’m sitting across from you and I say, ‘The Big 12, quarterbacks from the Big 12, maybe Sam Bradford in the last 10 years, about the only example that I can think of, of a guy that made it (in the NFL). There have been a lot of guys, RG3, Brandon Weeden, Bryce Petty and on and on, that have come from this league and not been productive players in the NFL. Tell me why I’m wrong about you, to use the Big 12 as a reason to doubt your ability to play in the NFL?’

Mayfield: It’s never been about my ability, it’s about my mindset. I’m a winner at heart (inaudible after OU’s Jamuni McNeace dunks the basketball and interrupts the conversation, prompting Wischusen to offer Mayfield the mic to call the game). It’s a mindset. You have to believe that you’re never going to lose. You want to win, you want to do whatever it takes to win, and whatever it takes for your team to win. That’s what I’ve always had and it’s gotten me here. That’s the difference-maker for me.

Vitale: Let me just tell you this — Bob does the game for the Jets —

Wischusen: I’m the Jet radio announcer —

Vitale: He would love to see you with the Jets, baby. He would love to call your games.

Wischusen: Not to influence, but anything you can do to make that happen, because I haven’t had a chance to call as many touchdowns as I would like over the last few years, so if you could work that on my behalf, I would really appreciate it.

Mayfield: We’ll see, we’ll see.

Wischusen: What is your regimen like right now getting ready for (the draft). I know you went to the Senior Bowl which, I thought that was a pretty courageous move in a way. Most quarterbacks, when you know you’re a first-round pick, you’re just gonna go to your pro day, work out, wear your shorts and the ball’s never gonna hit the ground and you look like a million dollars. Why did you make the decision to expose yourself a little bit and go to the Senior Bowl to throw to receivers you don’t know and face good competition?

Mayfield: A lot of those guys are afraid to hurt their draft stock. In my head I want to do everything I can to prove that I am more than capable of being the best quarterback in this class. I’m a competitive guy. I want to get in front of them and let the coaches and scouts know what I’m all about, exactly where my head is at and what my mindset it. I’m preparing for the draft and I’m ready to be the franchise player for somebody.

Vitale: I’ll tell you one thing, you seem to love every moment, everything I’ve see here, the crowd loving you — don’t ever change. Keep that personality, keep going and just keep believing.

Mayfield: I appreciate that. That means a lot coming from you.

With that, Mayfield got up and started greeting OU fans and signing autographs. Mayfield has been invited to attend the NFL Scouting Combine at the end of the month.

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