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SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) — Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was awarded the Burlsworth Award on Monday, given annually to the top college football player who began his career as a walk-on.
"Right now I'm pretty happy with this," Mayfield said. "It's a walk-on award, and just thinking back to my journey, it's pretty special."
Mayfield has helped lead Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff this season, where they will face Clemson in a semifinal at the Orange Bowl on Dec. 31. The junior is second in the country in passing efficiency and has thrown for 35 touchdowns and five interceptions this season.
The other finalists were Penn State defensive lineman Carl Nassib and Washington State quarterback Luke Falk. Mayfield won the award a few hours before the Heisman Trophy finalists were announced and he was not among them.
The Burlsworth Award is a fitting honor for Mayfield, who has walked on twice in his career — first at Texas Tech and later with the Sooners after transferring. The 6-foot-2, 214-pound Mayfield is in his first season starting for Oklahoma.
"Last year, having to sit out and watch football, was a different situation for me," Mayfield said. "It was tough, but having the success and our team working really hard now is kind of satisfying, to know that everything I did and took a chance on is paying off now."
Originally from Austin, Texas, Mayfield began his career as a walk-on with the Red Raiders. He sat out last season after transferring to his childhood favorite, Oklahoma, where he has thrown for an average of 282.4 yards per game this season while completing 68.6 percent of his passes.
Despite his immediate success, both at Texas Tech and with Oklahoma, Mayfield said he wouldn't consider leaving college early for the NFL.
"I'm not going to the draft," Mayfield said. "I'm coming back to school; I like OU too much to do that."
The Burlsworth Award is named after former Arkansas offensive lineman Brandon Burlsworth, who worked his way from walk-on to All-American before being drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 1999. He was killed in a car accident 11 days later.
East Carolina's Justin Hardy won the award last year, and Cleveland Browns quarterback Austin Davis is among the past winners.
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