Randy Rodgers can understand Baker Mayfield suddenly emerging as a candidate to be Texas Tech’s starting quarterback, his age notwithstanding.
No one predicts a true freshman, let alone a walk-on, to push for such a job in the Big 12, but Rodgers can surmise what Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury sees in Mayfield. As a recruiting consultant, a studio analyst for Fox Sports Southwest’s high school coverage and an Austin resident, Rodgers estimates he saw the former Austin Lake Travis standout play live in five games over the last two years.
“I thought he was a heck of a player, a terrific leader and a real warrior,” Rodgers said, “because he did everything for Lake Travis.
“He’s a dual threat. He ran the football for them. He ran the zone read. He ran all the quarterback stuff. He threw. He did everything. Plus, he’s got some size, too. He’s a pretty big kid.”
The last two years, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Mayfield led Lake Travis to a 16-0 season and the Class 4A Division I state championship in 2011 and a 9-2 season in the Cavaliers’ Class 5A debut in 2012. He’s the latest Division I quarterback from a program that’s recently turned out Todd Reesing, Garrett Gilbert and Tech’s own Michael Brewer.
Right now, though, Brewer’s sidelined by a back injury, and Mayfield is battling another true freshman, Davis Webb, to be Tech’s starting quarterback in the Aug. 30 season opener at SMU.
Their most obvious difference implies Webb would be the better choice: Webb’s a scholarship player, Mayfield a walk-on. Then again, Mayfield turned down a few scholarship offers, most notably from Washington State and Rice.
Rodgers, who spent a decade as John Mackovic’s recruiting coordinator at Illinois and Texas, ranked Mayfield among the state’s top 30 quarterback prospects in the 2012 Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine.
“I thought he definitely was a Division I prospect,” Rodgers said. “His situation was, he came out very early in the process and said, ‘I want to go to TCU.’ TCU didn’t have him as their number-one guy. They liked somebody else. That’s part of it.
“So I think a lot of other schools backed off early. He had some offers, but he clearly wanted to be a Big 12-level player, so he turned those down to take a shot at that dream, and that’s exactly what he’s getting right now.”
Kingsbury said Friday he won’t announce a starting quarterback before the first kickoff in Dallas.
Over the last two years, Mayfield threw for more than 6,200 yards and 69 touchdowns with seven interceptions, and during the state championship season, he rushed for 754 yards and 10 TDs.
“I think his best asset is his overall athleticism,” Rodgers said. “He can run. He can throw. He can throw the deep ball. He’s got good accuracy, and certainly in Lake Travis’ offense, he got a lot of experience and a lot of reps at throwing the football.
“I just like his leadership skills. The times I saw him, particularly as a senior at Lake Travis, he could put that team on his back and carry them with all the different things that coaches were asking him to do.
“Having said that, of course it’s a big step up from high school senior to Big 12 starter in one year. It’s probably not what Kliff wants to do, but hey, guys get nicked up, next man up.”
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