Lake Travis Cavaliers head football coach Hank Carter has built a reputation in Central Texas — and throughout the Lone Star State, for that matter — for developing first-tier, Division I talent at his powerhouse high school program in the affluent suburbs west of Austin.
Over the past few years, several Cavaliers have made their way to Division I programs from teams that won four consecutive state championships in recent years. Two of these quarterbacks, given an odd set of circumstances, will square off tomorrow in Dallas as the Texas Tech Red Raiders take on the SMU Mustangs at Ford Field on the SMU campus.
Texas Tech walk-on true freshman quarterback Baker Mayfield has been given the nod (over fellow true freshman Davis Webb) by first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury due to a lingering back injury to sophomore QB Michael Brewer, himself a Lake Travis grad. Brewer is dealing with a fractured vertebrae in his back which, on a conservative rehab timetable, wouldn’t allow him to return to action until Tech’s October 5th matchup with the hapless Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence.
The 6’2″, 200 pound Mayfield was lightly recruited due to being somewhat under-sized for the prototypical DI quarterback, receiving scholarship offers only from the Florida Atlantic Owls and New Mexico Lobos, but doesn’t lack in talent by any stretch. Mayfield threw for 2,467 yards and 22 touchdowns against only three interceptions in a tough CenTex conference, showing a combination of arm strength and leadership ability which obviously caught the eye of Kingsbury.
The new Tech head coach has a history of taking raw quarterback talent and polishing it, and quickly at that, into polish. Kingsbury started his coaching career with the Houston Cougars as a quarterbacks coach working with the talented David Piland and the prolific Case Keenum, now the backup to Matt Schaub with the Houston Texans.
Kingsbury followed Kevin Sumlin to Texas A&M, and subsequently worked hand-in-hand to develop last year’s reigning Heisman Trophy winner and media “darling” Johnny Manziel.
The pedigree which Baker Mayfield has already enjoyed to this point in his young career in working with Hank Carter at Lake Travis and now with Kingsbury suggest the daunting task of getting a start in his very first collegiate game — against another Lake Travis alum, nonetheless, in SMU fifth-year senior Garrett Gilbert — may be lessened just enough for him to succeed.
Regardless, it’s a trial by fire moment both for Kingsbury and Mayfield as the Red Raiders enter a new area under great scrutiny from a fan base who desperately wants to return to the glory days of the BCS fringe under controversial former head coach Mike Leach.
Baker Mayfield could possibly win himself a scholarship in the coming weeks with some success. He’ll certainly be given that opportunity as Michael Brewer slowly heals and his own short-term future hangs in the balance.