It wasn't that long ago that most NFL experts had completely written the Tampa Bay Buccaneers off. Tom Brady retiring back in February and took the national spotlight with him; any mention of the Bucs after that was either dismissive or outright negative.
Tampa Bay was pegged as candidate to tank this year, and once Baker Mayfield signed the predictions got increasingly less optimistic. The Bucs were a joke in the eyes of pundits, but Baker and the gang appear to be getting the last laugh.
Five weeks into the season, the Bucs are 3-1 and in sole possession of first place in the NFC South. The defense looks elite, Dave Canales is slowly turning the offense around, and Baker is a celebrity once again.
ESPN's College GameDay was in Dallas on Saturday for the Red River Rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas. Rather than grab Matthew McConaughey or some other famous alumni, GameDay chose Baker Mayfield as the celebrity guest picker.
Keep in mind this is a netural site game for the Sooners, but ESPN still tabbed Baker to be the guest picker which speaks volumes to how much perceptions have changed. Baker lived up to the hype, too, turning in an instant classic appearance alongside Lee Corso and the crew during the picks segment.
Baker Mayfield stole Lee Corso's thunder during College GameDay picks
Not only did Baker go rogue by being the only person to pick Oklahoma -- because how could he not -- but he did so by taking a page out of Lee Corso's headgear book. Baker didn't don an outfit or strap on a mascot head, rather he whipped a RUF/NEKS gun to make his pick.
It was as awesome as it was hilarious. Just watch:
Not only was this fantastic television, it serves as further proof of why Baker has won over the Bucs locker room. Ever since he arrived, and increasingly as the team has won games, we keep hearing about how Baker connected with teammates and has fully taken over as a leader.
We got a glimpse of this in the Week 1 win over Minnesota, when his Angry Runs showed the sort of grit that the rest of the team has been feeding off ever since. Baker's energy has helped completely change the attitude of the team, and it's one of the biggest developments so far this year that has led to the surprise 3-1 start.
After an offseason of getting dumped on, the Bucs were already going to play with a chip on their shoulder this season. Baker naturally fit that mold, and it's turned into a dream pairing not many saw coming. Watching Baker's rah-rah personality come out on College GameDay, it's no surprise the team has fully bought in and are ready to go to war with him each week.