Oklahoma mailbag: How much will Sooners miss Baker Mayfield’s leadership?
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Roy McElmurry asks if there will be a big drop-off in leadership at the quarterback position this season?
If you’re an Oklahoma fan, you love to think every quarterback can embody what Baker Mayfield brought to the position. But that’s unrealistic. The Sooners have had great leaders in the past, but Mayfield was different because he was the quarterback. Talent, personality and persona all made him special.
If you don’t believe that’s true, the respect Mayfield earned from teammates and coaches played a major role in the Cleveland Browns making him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Neither Kyler Murray nor Austin Kendall have Mayfield’s personality. Neither is a rah-rah guy. That’s fine. The overwhelming majority of quarterbacks have stoic demeanors. They’ve been taught for years that the position requires that.
One thing Sooners coach Lincoln Riley has shown is he won’t waste time trying to change a quarterback’s personality. He let’s them be who they are.
What’s impossible to replace this season is the experience and credibility Mayfield had with teammates. He built that over three Big 12 championship seasons. Winning the trust Mayfield acquired only comes by winning games.
The truth is we won’t know about the leadership the Sooners have until something goes wrong. There will be several games this season where something is off and the players have to work their way out of it.
One thing I do know is Riley knew there would be a leadership void heading into this season and he’s not waiting until October to try to do something about it.
One of strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie’s tasks since January has been drawing those leadership traits out of experienced players and starters.