You’re probably wondering who that is in the above picture, unless you are a Big 12 fan or a fan of walk-on true freshman quarterbacks. Yes, that is Baker Mayfield, the Texas Tech Red Raider’s starting quarterback who also happens to be a walk-on. Mayfield’s not your average walk-on; he quarterbacked a Texas state championship football team but because of baseball season he wasn’t able to take any recruiting visits, realized all 456 Texas colleges had signed their upcoming QBs and decided to show up at Tech pro bono. If you finished that paragraph about Texas Tech and you’re ready to comment that this isn’t TexasTechSportsRadio, hear me out. True freshman quarterbacks have become all the rage, and they’re finding success early in the season. What does this mean for UK? It means it isn’t too far-fetched that Drew Barker comes in next year and starts the season under center.
Take a look at Mayfield’s passing stats for example:
Sure, it’s not exactly like they played Alabama and LSU to start the season but it is nonetheless impressive that a QB can throw for 780 yards and 7 touchdowns in the first two Division I football games of his career. How about the California Golden Bear’s (not this Golden Bear) true freshman starting quarterback Jared Goff?
Goff, while throwing for 930 yards in two games, also fell just 19 yards shy of throwing for the most yards in a single-game at Cal, thanks to new coach Sonny Dykes’ high-octane offense, which brings me to my second point – the Air Raid offense.
Texas Tech’s Mayfield plays for co-offensive coordinators Eric Morris and Sonny Cumbie, one (Eric) who played under TTU coach Mike Leach and the other (Sonny) who coached under Leach after finishing his college career. California’s Goff plays for Sonny Dykes, who was a former UK receivers coach in 1999 under Hal Mumme before joining….Mike Leach at Texas Tech in 2000. The Air Raid coaching tree extends throughout college football but there isn’t a better example of two quarterbacks playing in a system similar to the one Coach Brown is installing in Lexington than Mayfield and Goff.
The coaches have repeatedly said that the offense used this year will be altered to fit the personnel they have on the field. When Drew Barker arrives at UK for the 2014 season it will not be an impossible task for him to win the starting position as a true freshman. The Air Raid offense has been around long enough that it has extended into the high school levels, meaning that QBs like Barker, Mayfield and Goff have probably at one time or another played in the system before arriving on campus. The offense isn’t the hardest to learn, meaning any previous experience can equip a quarterback with the necessary skills before facing their first D-1 defense. Admittedly, two games aren’t exactly the best sample size to definitively call this a trend, so it will be interesting to watch the season unfold for these quarterbacks; next year, UK fans could find themselves in a similar situation with a true freshman, Air Raid QB who finds early success in the system.
Passing stats from ESPN.com