MAYFIELD VILLAGE — Baker Mayfield hoisted a camper off the ground after a play. He bent down to tie another’s shoe.
He coached, threw and played defense, making a one-handed interception, taking it to the house and spiking it between his legs. He playfully questioned the officiating and did some light-hearted trash-talking.
“You heard the footsteps, baby,” he said to a camper about half his height after an incompletion.
He was also careful not to step on anyone during the spirited and crowded touch football games spread over three fields at his first youth football camp in Northeast Ohio, which featured more than 500 campers and wraps up Sunday.
For Mayfield, the second-year quarterback of the Browns, the focus will shift to mandatory minicamp next week with the final practices before training camp in July. For this weekend, his attention was squarely on the young, sweaty faces having a blast and looking up to their hero.
“It’s really what it’s all about,” he said. “I dreamt of playing professional football and I’m in a position where I can be a role model to kids and for a lot more and setting an example if you want something, work for it and enjoy it. It’s a great position to be in.”
Mayfield danced with the kids, signed memorabilia, posed for a few pictures and answered questions from the campers. The best was if he ever gets embarrassed when he gets sacked. The answer was yes.
He appreciated the aptly named setting of Mayfield High School, home of the Wildcats.
“Pretty convenient. Really convenient,” he said. “It’s unbelievable they let us use their facilities and come out here. Great staff and just being around some of these guys and some of the coaches that make an influence in this community, it’s been great. I’m fortunate to have a place like this and they allow me to do it.”
Mayfield wanted the spotlight to remain on the camp but answered a couple of questions about his day job. He said he’s been actively recruiting free agent defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who visited the Browns, Ravens and Panthers and is expected to make a decision in the next couple of days.
Mayfield and McCoy are University of Oklahoma alum, and McCoy posted on Instagram Saturday morning a picture of him on a field in cleats, with the caption: A lot to think about!! This is how I clear my head. Going to work!!
McCoy could be in town in time for minicamp, which runs Tuesday through Thursday.
“As we continue our offseason training and it’s coming to an end, it’s getting exciting,” Mayfield said. “That’s why we have the energy of these kids out here. People are itching to get back to football.”
The minicamp is expected to include receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who attended only one of nine organized team activities practices over the last three weeks, and Mayfield is looking forward to having everyone together.
“You don’t get too many times that it’s not during the season and everybody’s got their own routines,” he said. “It’ll be enjoyable next week.”
The excitement surrounding the Browns is already high and will continue to escalate as the season approaches. Mayfield wanted to make sure the campers were all-in on Browns mania.
“We can feel the energy but then getting around a younger generation to kind of culminate a new Browns fan group and making sure we have their support and they’re enjoying it and knowing that we’re going to be working hard and setting a new standard,” he said.
Mayfield will also host camps in his hometown of Austin, Texas, and in Norman, Okla., home of the Sooners. He was on hand for all three hours Saturday and actively participated, which isn’t always the case with professional athletes.
“I’m always a guy, if I’m going to do something I’m going to do it 100 percent,” he said. “That’s just the way it should be done. These kids and these parents, they bring them here, some of them traveled awhile, you pay money to bring them here, so you’ve got to make it worth it.
“You want to make it more than just a name on a flier for a camp. You want to have them enjoy and learn a few things.”
And leave with a message near and dear to Mayfield.
“Whatever they want to do, whether this is just a camp or they want to grow up and be a football player or whatever they want to do, just go for it, be yourself and stay true to that, work for it and enjoy it,” he said.
The campers serenaded their host with “Ba-ker” chants. He left them with a question to think about before the games and fun resume Sunday.
“You gonna wake up feeling dangerous tomorrow?” he said.