By David Ubben

When Baker Mayfield arrives on a college campus, muffled snickering is waiting at the admissions office. 

"So, let me get this straight: You're going to turn down free rides to Washington State, Rice and Florida Atlantic to pay your way to Texas Tech?" 

A year later, he found the same response in Norman. 

"So, you haven't even talked to Bob Stoops, but you're going to turn down a certain future scholarship and possible starting QB spot in Lubbock to pay your way and be the fifth-stringer at Oklahoma?

"Son, were you asleep during the Sugar Bowl? Nick Saban's going to have nightmares about Trevor Knight for months." 

After sitting out an NCAA-mandated year, Mayfield is Oklahoma's new starting quarterback, the team announced Monday, for the Sooners' Sept. 5 opener vs. Akron.

There's not another player in college football who feeds more off being told what he can't do. Mayfield's continued ignorance of common sense befuddles onlookers and impresses teammates. 

Eventually, he got that introduction to Stoops. Last fall, while sitting out because of transfer rules, Mayfield rudely introduced himself to the Sooners' scout team defense. Then he caught a break in January when Oklahoma fired offensive coordinator Josh Heupel and brought in Air Raid specialist Lincoln Riley from East Carolina. 

All the Sooners' quarterbacks -- Knight, Mayfield and Cody Thomas -- had clean slates, and Mayfield was learning an offense similar to the one he'd already mastered at Lake Travis High School in Austin, where he won a state title. 

At Texas Tech -- in Kliff Kingsbury's Air Raid offense -- Mayfield was the first walk-on true freshman in NCAA history to start a season opener. He followed a similar script to win the job at Oklahoma. 

Mayfield arrived at Texas Tech in July 2013 and was strong in voluntary team workouts, but most of the team still didn't know his name. They knew it after he sent the team into hysterics with a rendition of the "Dougie."

This summer, a short video of Mayfield busting out another dance sensation -- the whip -- at a pre-Russell Athletic Bowl event in Florida went viral. 

Dancing doesn't have much to do with quarterbacking, but it has a lot to do with attitude and confidence. Mayfield's personality is infectious, and turnover problems aside, it quickly earned him a following on the Oklahoma roster. That's an intangible, must-have skill for a quarterback, and Mayfield possesses it in bushels. If he believes he can do anything (and, often, does it), surely some of his teammates will follow suit. 

He's an accurate passer, and though that confidence can easily slip into overconfidence and beget turnovers, it more often leads to production and points. That's a tangible, must-have stat for any offense in the Big 12. 

Mayfield earned a reputation for fumbling at Texas Tech, but he also threw for 413 yards and scored five touchdowns in his first start as a Red Raider, in a win over SMU. He topped 275 passing yards four more times during an injury-plagued freshman season, ultimately completing 64.1 percent of his passes for 2,315 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions in eight games.

With Mayfield behind center, Oklahoma will start the season ranked No. 19 in the AP poll, its lowest opening ranking since 2000. That season, the Sooners won the national title. Two years ago, the Sooners kicked off the season at No. 16 and finished No. 6 after dramatic wins over Oklahoma State and Alabama to close the season, the latter thanks in part to a breakout performance by Knight.

Now, it's Mayfield's turn after uneven play by Oklahoma's quarterbacks last year in which they ranked 96th in passer rating. Stoops does some of his best work when expectations are low and detractors are plenty. He couldn't ask for a better attitude in his new quarterback as the offense shifts to a new system.

Knight's production and inconsistency have made it clear he's not a quarterback who can return Oklahoma to perennial national power status. 

Is Mayfield? 

Do you want to tell him he's not?

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David Ubben is a contributor to Sports on Earth. Before joining, he covered college sports for and Fox Sports Southwest. He lives in Dallas with his wife and their golden retriever. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter