For the next two weeks, we're taking a look at one player each Big 12 team can't live without. These are the players we consider the most indispensable heading into 2016. We continue this series today with the Oklahoma Sooners.
Most indispensable: QB Baker Mayfield
Mayfield completely transformed Oklahoma after winning the starting quarterback job before the 2015 season. The Sooners had more swagger, more confidence and more success with Mayfield, winning the Big 12 and making an appearance in the College Football Playoff.
Mayfield finished his first season at Oklahoma with 3,700 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and seven interceptions and added 405 rushing yards and seven scores on the ground. He led the Big 12 in completion percentage (68.1) and interception percentage (1.8) and finished with a 81.7 adjusted QBR.
This season, Mayfield should continue to be the driving force behind Oklahoma’s national and conference championship hopes. The former Texas Tech transfer grew leaps and bounds from his 2013 output as a Red Raider, so it wouldn’t be a major surprise to see Mayfield play even better in 2016 as he continues his growth as a quarterback. Despite being sacked 39 times in 2015, there are no shining weaknesses in his game as he was consistently under pressure thanks to offensive-line struggles at Oklahoma, yet took terrific care of the ball and often turned a potential loss into a big play.
The quarterback depth behind Mayfield is full of unknowns. True freshman early enrollee Austin Kendall is in line to be Mayfield’s backup after a solid spring as a newcomer to the program. He appears mature beyond his years, but putting Oklahoma’s championship fortunes on his shoulders in Mayfield’s absence would not be ideal.
No player in the conference is more indispensable than Mayfield. He's one of the country's best players, sets a winning tone for the Sooners and tends to shine in key moments. He's an irreplaceable part of the Sooners heading into 2016.