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Baker Mayfield Almost Quit Football In High School To Become A Professional "Halo" Player

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Baker Mayfield is the starting quarterback of a major D1 program. He has 1382 yards passing through 4 games including 487 against Tulsa and 388 against Akron. 13 touchdowns passing, 4 touchdowns rushing, a 65% completion percentage and a 178.5 QB rating. He has a gorgeous girlfriend and is the undisputed big man on campus in Norman with unlimited swag.

And he’s a…gamer?

OklahomaIt’s the week after he racked up a school-record 572 yards of total offense against Tulsa, the most by an FBS player in a game this season.

Baker Mayfield sits fully engaged on the front of his seat, eyes whipping back and forth across the mammoth video being thrust upon the wall by a high-tech digital projector. The image is coming from the back corner of the room at an angle, yet curiously appears squarely on the wall as if the projector is facing it head on.

No, Mayfield is not in the quarterbacks meeting room evaluating OU’s offensive performance against the Golden Hurricane just days earlier. Far from it. He is alone in the living room of his east-Norman apartment, sitting on a brown couch immediately beneath a 10-foot-long American flag, doing what he enjoys more than almost anything else: dominating a multi-hour session of the video game Halo 3.

Most of the time Mayfield plays online with strangers. He wears a headset, complete with a microphone, so he and his teammates can converse and strategize. The first team to a certain number of “kills” wins.

And Mayfield wins a lot. In fact, he almost never loses. He was so fanatical about Halo 3 as a freshman at Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas, that playing football for the perennial powerhouse started getting in the way of his video gaming. So much so that between his freshman and sophomore years he said he contemplated cutting back on football so he could devote more time to nabbing cybernetically enhanced creatures on screen.

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“He told me at one point he was about to quit football when he was in high school and just play video games; become a professional video gamer,” says Jaxon Uhles, a redshirt sophomore fullback for the Sooners who lives with Mayfield in their heavily sports-decorated two-bedroom apartment.

Guess it’s true what they say about stereotypes and them being…not true all the time? I don’t know the exact saying but you get what I mean, you don’t expect a super jock high school quarterback who won a state championship, became the first true walk on QB to start a season opener at a BCS school, and eventually became one of the best players in college football for Oklahoma to be a hardcore gamer with a headset permanently attached to his head whooping up on 5 year olds in shooting games and pounding n00bs into the virtual dirt.

“One-on-one, I don’t think there’s anybody on campus who can beat me,” he says. “I’m gonna put that out there.”

“I’ve seen him play a lot of video games,” says Uhles, who has lived with Mayfield for more than a year. “And one-on-one, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him lose in Halo.

Ryan Spangler is a senior on the OU men’s basketball team and an avid video game player who is even more familiar with Mayfield’s abilities. What’s his assessment?

“He’s legit,” says Spangler. “That’s the word for it. Legit.

“I used to rule Norman in Halo, at least among all my friends,” continues Spangler. “But then Baker came along and he was the best. So I started to jump on teams with him. We can’t be beat on doubles. We’ve never lost as teammates.”

Asked about Mayfield’s assertion that nobody on campus is good enough to beat him, Spangler starts to answer before the question is even finished.

“There’s definitely not. I’m telling you, he’s really good. He’s really good.”

Spangler remembers a particular encounter with a pair of pretty good — and pretty cocky — opponents in a doubles game with Mayfield after he first arrived in Norman following his transfer from Texas Tech at the beginning of the 2014 spring semester. Because Mayfield had just gotten a new Xbox console, the personal ranking emblems doled out by the game listed the two Sooners as beginners. The opposing players talked trash before the action began, only to quickly discover something was evidently awry with the player-rating system.

“Baker was at his apartment and I was at mine,” says Spangler, “and we were both on our headsets. You can’t hear your opponents when the game starts, just before it begins and after it ends. So once it starts he tells me to just hide out and let him go one-on-two against them. He dominated them and we won pretty easily. They hopped off pretty quickly afterward.”

Think the Sooners are glad he decided to keep the Halo as a hobby and continue with his football career.

 

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