Does Baker Mayfield rank with the greatest college QBs of all-time?

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 09: Baker Mayfield, quarterback of the Oklahoma Sooners, poses for the media after the 2017 Heisman Trophy Presentation at the Marriott Marquis December 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 09: Baker Mayfield, quarterback of the Oklahoma Sooners, poses for the media after the 2017 Heisman Trophy Presentation at the Marriott Marquis December 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) /

Baker Mayfield became the 83rd member of college football’s most exclusive club on Saturday.

The Sooner All-American’s three seasons at Oklahoma have been nothing short of sensational. Oklahoma’s combined record the past three seasons with Mayfield as the starting quarterback is an impressive 34-5 and, incredibly, he has not lost a true road game the entire time he has been at OU.

Mayfield’s list of accomplishments at Oklahoma are a mile long. This season alone he leads the nation in passing efficiency (203.8), pass completion percentage (.710), yards per completed pass (16.56) and passing plays over 20 yards (75). Last season he set a new passing efficiency record (196.4), breaking the old mark by five points, and the Sooner superstar he is on pace this season to shatter that record by another seven or eight points.

Only Landry Jones has more career passing yards at Oklahoma than Mayfield, but Mayfield is by far the career leader at OU in completion percentage, passing efficiency and touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Mayfield is the third Oklahoma quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy and the sixth Sooner player overall. Before Mayfield came to Oklahoma in 2014, transferring from Texas Tech after his freshman season and walking on at OU as he did at Tech, Sam Bradford held the title, at least in my mind, as the greatest Oklahoma quarterback of all-time. Now I am ready to elevate Mayfield as the most deserving of all of the Sooner quarterbacks to hold that honor.

And I’m not willing to stop there. I believe Mayfield should go down as the best quarterback in the relatively short history of the Big 12 and, based on stats alone, one of the greatest QBs to play the college game. What makes this an even more mind-boggling presumption is that we’re talking about a two-time walk-on.

To begin with, Mayfield is one of 37 college players who played the quarterback position at some point in their collegiate careers to win the Heisman Trophy. He is the only quarterback in the 83-year history of the Heisman, however, to be a finalist for the award for three consecutive years and finish in the top four of the Heisman balloting in each of those years.

Berry Tramel, sports columnist for the Oklahoma City Oklahoman was nice enough to do the research that shows former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow as the closest challenger to Mayfield in that category.

Several former Heisman winners, considered some of the best college quarterbacks to ever play the game, do not match up to Mayfield’s accomplishment of being a Heisman finalist three straight seasons and never finishing lower than fourth in the voting.

Johnny Lujak of Notre Dame, considered by some to be the greatest college quarterback of all-time, won the Heisman in 1947 and was a finalist in1946, finishing third. Former Tennessee quarterback and a future NFL Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning, was a Heisman finalist three times (1995, ’96 and ’97, finishing sixth, eighth and second, respectively), but never won the award. Vinny Testaverde of Miami finished fifth in the Heisman voting in 1985 and won a year later, also leading his team to the national championship that season.

Oklahoma Sooners Football
Oklahoma Sooners Football /

Oklahoma Sooners Football

Probably the true mark of the greatest college quarterbacks, however, is not winning trophies, but winning championships. Mayfield checks the box insofar as conference championships, having led the Sooners to three consecutive Big 12 titles while he was a Oklahoma. The Sooner consensus All-American has not won a national championship, though, something he has an opportunity to do this season with Oklahoma one of the four teams in the College Football Playoff.

In terms of quarterbacks who have led their teams to national championships, Notre Dame’s Lujak led the Fighting Irish to back-to-back national titles in 1946 and 1947. He is also one of only three two-time consensus All-American quarterbacks.

Of more recent note, Matt Leinart of USC, a three-time Heisman finalist, played in back-to-back national championship games. He quarterbacked the Trojans to a dominant 57-19 triumph over Jason White and Oklahoma for the 2004 national championship (the same season Leinart was awarded the Heisman Trophy and one year after White had won the award), but was on the losing end against Texas a year later in one of the most dramatic finishes in NCAA Championship history.

USC also was declared the 2004 national champion by the Associated Press, in Leinart’s sophomore season.

This will be Mayfield’s second trip to college football’s version of the Final Four. With Mayfield at quarterback in his redshirt-sophomore season, Oklahoma lost to Clemson in one of the national semifinal games. A rematch between OU and Clemson is possible again this season, and if it occurs it will be for the national championship.

Saturday was a overwhelmingly eventful day in the life of Baker Mayfield, his parents and his Oklahoma football family. Even while he had his hand on the Heisman, the OU quarterback had his eyes and mind on yet another significant prize: the 2017 national championship.

Mayfield closed his acceptance remarks at the Heisman ceremony with the simple reminder: “I’m not done yet.” Those words are music to the ears of Sooner fans everywhere.