Could Heisman hopeful Baker Mayfield play for Michigan in 2017?

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There was a major event that could have a ripple effect in college football, and no one even knew that it happened. ESPN reported that the Big XII voted down a rule change (that) would’ve “allowed walk-ons to transfer within the Big 12 without losing a season of eligibility. According to current Big 12 rules, walk-ons who transfer to another school within the league must sit out a year and lose a season of conference eligibility.” 

This directly effects a major growing star in college football, Oklahoma Quarterback Baker Mayfield.

According to the report:

“Mayfield had to sit out the 2014 season at Oklahoma after transferring from Texas Tech following his freshman year, even though he was a walk-on for the Red Raiders. With the rule change failing to pass, Mayfield will be out of Big 12 eligibility after this season. He could, however, graduate and become eligible immediately at a school outside the Big 12 in 2017.”

That last portion is important for the statement of this piece. There is a possibility that Baker Mayfield may play for Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines in 2017. Much in the same vein as what Russell Wilson did to get to Wisconsin, Mayfield could leave for the Wolverines due to a wrinkle in NCAA rules regarding undergraduate eligibility.

Wilson is the best example of how this process can work because he was able to attain his undergraduate degree and become the equivalent to a college free-agent. Wilson’s college tenure is best remembered for his time in Wisconsin far more than NC State and the payoff was there for both sides.

The reasons for Michigan to embrace Mayfield should be readily apparent. If not, please watch the Heisman hype video above, because this guy is a world-class talent in college football.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 1.14.06 AMThe opportunity for Mayfield to find himself in Ann Arbor relies on two very distinct reasons: #1 the allure of Harbaugh and #2 the influence of Russell Wilson’s move.

The first reason is the strongest argument I have for thinking Mayfield is going to Michigan. The prospect of working with a bonafide QB guru in Jim Harbaugh is something most quarterbacks would never give up.

While Mayfield’s style thus far is flashy and exciting, for his game to translate to the pro level, Mayfield will need guidance. Players like Jake Locker, Drew Stanton, Johnny Manziel, and Tim Tebow have shown that while a quarterback with mobility is nice, having a pro-style thrower is ideal. Success in “The League” seems to attach to guys with throwing styles a la Andrew Luck, Blake Bortles, Kirk Cousins, or Derek Carr.

Harbaugh would give Mayfield a platform and a system to be able to hash out the best of his arm talent while still having him play on a big stage. If Mayfield were able to adapt better to the pro game under Harbaugh, then Mayfield’s stock could rise even higher, and more importantly, he may stay in the league longer. Their personalities are even similar to how intense they can get on the field.

And don’t forget the skills that Harbaugh has in recruiting on a large scale. It could be argued this would be his best recruiting job yet if he can land a guy like this.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 1.13.03 AMThe far more reaching but still viable reason is the influence of an example I have laid out before; Russell Wilson’s move to Wisconsin.

This move is relevant in Mayfield’s case because the scenarios are similar. When Wilson left NC State in 2011, he was already regarded highly in college football circles. He single-handedly made the teams he played with better and had become the face of the program. After Wilson graduated, however, he decided to leave and go to a more storied program, one where his brand could be on the national stage and be a part of a team that had a higher ceiling.

In Wilson’s four years in Raleigh, the Wolfpack went a combined 25-25 with two bowl appearances and three losing seasons. In Wilson’s only season at Wisconsin, he won the Big Ten Title, lost the Rose Bowl by a touchdown, and had an eleven win season. The 2011 season propelled Wilson into NFL discussions and landed him in the third round to the Seattle Seahawks.

Mayfield can have many of the same results. While Oklahoma is a big platform school, nothing beats playing in the Big Ten at the Big House wearing the winged helmet. Mayfield’s brand could skyrocket with a stellar season at Michigan and he could help himself professionally under Harbaugh and nationally by playing for one of the biggest programs in the country.

Oklahoma has its fair share of recognition, but there are not many who would argue that a move from Oklahoma to Michigan wouldn’t be an improvement for him. On top of that, if Harbaugh predictably has another stellar year in Ann Arbor, the headlines will write themselves and the sky will be the limit for a Harbaugh-Mayfield tandem.

If I were both Mayfield and Michigan, I would already start making plans for the star QB to pack his bags and head to the Big House.