NORMAN — After years of reliably consistent quarterback play, Oklahoma went through most of the 2013 season without a firm offensive identity or a settled starter at the position.
The Sooners return four quarterbacks next season and Edmond Santa Fe standout Justice Hansen is expected to enroll early, likely making the group’s meeting room more crowded than usual when spring practices open in March.
Then came Thursday’s bombshell report regarding a potential sixth quarterback at Oklahoma this spring. Citing a source close to the player, the Austin American-Statesman reported Texas Tech’s Baker Mayfield intends to enroll at OU in January and walk on to the football team.
The newspaper also reported Mayfield will appeal any transfer restrictions.
“We are very pleased and excited about the quarterback situation and young guys coming into our program,” OU coach Bob Stoops said during a Thursday afternoon radio appearance on The Sports Animal when asked about Mayfield. “It isn’t something we pursue.”
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury has reportedly blocked Mayfield from contact with any other Big 12 schools, so he couldn’t even speak with OU coaches about walking on until he’s officially enrolled as a student in Norman.
Mayfield started seven games as a true freshman in 2013, and even though he was a walk-on at Texas Tech, he’s still bound by NCAA and Big 12 transfer rules.
The NCAA requires that most football players sit out one year after transferring to another Football Bowl Subdivision program, and because Kingsbury didn’t grant him permission to contact other Big 12 schools, Mayfield also couldn’t receive financial aid during that year off.
Big 12 Conference rules stipulate that intraconference transfers must not only sit out the NCAA-required one year, but also will lose a season of eligibility, meaning Mayfield would only have two years to play at OU beginning with the 2015 season.
Mayfield, who played at Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas, is believed to be the first walk-on, true freshman quarterback to start a season opener for a Football Bowl Subdivision team.
In that game — a 41-23 Texas Tech win at SMU — Mayfield completed 43 of 60 pass attempts for 413 yards and four touchdowns, ran for another score and didn’t throw any interceptions.
For the season, he completed 64.1 percent of his pass attempts for 2,315 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and was named the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year by league coaches earlier this month.
Assuming no one transfers out, Oklahoma would have senior Blake Bell, sophomore Trevor Knight, junior Kendal Thompson, redshirt freshman Cody Thomas and Hansen when 2014 spring practices begin.
Knight was the Sooners’ starting quarterback when the 2013 season opened, but lost the job to Bell after two games. Bell started the next eight contests, but after suffering a concussion against Iowa State, Knight started the Sooners’ final two regular-season games at Kansas State and Oklahoma State.
Knight, though, left the Bedlam game late in the first half with a shoulder injury. OU coaches gave Thompson most of the third-quarter snaps in Stillwater, but he was ineffective.
Bell played the entire fourth quarter and was excellent, leading the Sooners on a last-minute touchdown drive that sealed OU’s upset victory over the No. 6-ranked Cowboys.
Oklahoma is now preparing for a Jan. 2 showdown with No. 3 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and Stoops has said he won’t name a starting quarterback before the game.