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Oklahoma Sooners QB Baker Mayfield keeps fire burning

By The Sports Xchange   |   Dec. 31, 2015 at 12:07 AM
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The story of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is well known.

He walked on at Texas Tech and became the first-ever true freshman walk-on quarterback to start his team's season opener for a Power Five school. Then he left Tech and walked on at Oklahoma, where he sat out last season before winning the starting job this season and helping the Sooners into the College Football Playoff, where they will face Clemson in the Orange Bowl on Thursday.

Along the way, Mayfield hasn't been shy about pointing out where he feels he's been slighted-whether it was by the schools that didn't offer him scholarships out of high school to Texas Tech before he left or anyone else.

"It's a pretty big-sized boulder," Mayfield said Tuesday at Orange Bowl Media Day when asked about the chip on his shoulder. "Along the way it just kind of built up. I use it as fuel and it's not like it's a negative thing. I use it as positive energy for me so it worked and so whatever I can add onto it, I will."

A day earlier, Mayfield said TCU "hung me out to dry" in the recruiting process and said Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson didn't like him.

Patterson responded later in the day, bringing up Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury and the fact that most other major-conference programs didn't offer Mayfield either. Washington State was the only Power Five team to give Mayfield a scholarship offer.

Tuesday, Mayfield didn't get drawn into a back-and-forth with Patterson, saying "this week is all about the Orange Bowl."

He did, though, say he would draw any slight - real or perceived - into motivation.

"It's about how you take in all the influence on the outside," Mayfield said. "Like I said, I use it as positive influence for me but I do kind of create an extra energy."

X-FACTOR: FB Dimitri Flowers - The sophomore doesn't have many catches this season - eight for 130 yards - but half of his receptions have gone for touchdowns. One of those was one of the biggest plays of the season for the Sooners - a 7-yard touchdown from Baker Mayfield that put away OU's win over Baylor late in the year. Flowers' role in the offense expanded as the year progressed, both in being part of the passing game and as a critical blocker for running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon.

Notebook

LT Orlando Brown, a redshirt freshman, figures to see plenty of time lined up across from Clemson DE Shaq Lawson. Brown, the son of the former NFL offensive lineman of the same name, has shown steady improvement this season but has struggled with penalties at times.

CB Zack Sanchez suffered an ankle injury midway through the season and was never the same after returning but secondary coach Kerry Cooks said Sanchez has been back to 100 percent recently and should be much improved for Thursday's game.

WR Sterling Shepard wasn't 100 percent for the bowl game against the Tigers last season after suffering a groin injury earlier in the season. But Shepard has stayed healthy this season and he's been Baker Mayfield's top target with 79 catches for 1,201 yards and 11 touchdowns. Shepard's late father, Derrick, played in three Orange Bowls for the Sooners in the mid-1980s.

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