Oklahoma junior quarterback Baker Mayfield was named Tuesday as one of 55 nominees for the 2015 Burlsworth Trophy, awarded by the Springdale (Ark.) Rotary Club to college football's most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on.
For the purposes of the award, a walk-on is defined as a player who began his first season of participation with an FBS program without financial aid of any kind from his university's athletic department.
The Burlsworth Trophy is named in honor of former University of Arkansas walk-on offensive lineman Brandon Burlsworth, who became a three-year Razorback starter and was eventually named an All-American in 1998. Burlsworth was selected 63rd overall by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL Draft but was tragically killed in a car accident 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation was created in his memory and supports the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children who have limited opportunities.
Mayfield, who began his career as a walk-on at Texas Tech, is having one of the best seasons of any collegiate quarterback. He ranks second among FBS players in pass efficiency rating (186.8), second in passing yards per attempt (10.23), fifth in points responsible for per game (22.0), sixth in passing touchdowns per game (3.11), ninth in total offense per game (337.4) and 13th in passing yards per game (312.4). A semifinalist for the Maxwell and O’Brien Awards, he has 28 touchdown passes and just four interceptions.
Mayfield has thrown for at least one touchdown in all nine games and has passed for at least three scores in seven contests. He has already tied the school single-season record for most touchdown passes of at least 70 yards with four. He threw two last week (75 and 74).
The Austin, Texas, product set the OU record for passing yards in a season opener with 388 (in only three quarters of play) in a 41-3 win over Akron. Two weeks later against Tulsa, Mayfield set the OU single-game record for total offense (572 yards; the most by an FBS player this year) and tied the school record by accounting for six touchdowns (four passing). His 487 passing yards in the game stand as the fourth most in OU history, and his 226.6 pass efficiency rating was the highest by a Sooner with more than 30 attempts in a game.
Four games ago at Kansas State, Mayfield tied the school record for touchdown passes in a half with five as OU took a 35-0 lead to the locker room. And two weeks ago at Kansas, he threw for 332 yards in the first half, the second most in a half in school history.
The only other 2015 Burlsworth Trophy nominee from the Big 12 Conference is Texas Tech senior defensive back John White.
The Springdale Rotary Club will host an awards ceremony on Dec. 7 in Springdale to honor the three finalists and to announce the 2015 winner. Former East Carolina receiver Justin Hardy won the award last year under the direction of offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, who now serves in the same capacity at Oklahoma. Hardy set the NCAA all-time receiving record with 355 catches.