OU star has op­tions be­sides foot­ball

Mur­ray also was a No. 1 pick by Oak­land in the MLB draft

Albuquerque Journal - - SPORTS - BY MARTIN GAL­LE­GOS THE MER­CURY NEWS

OAK­LAND, Calif. — When Kyler Mur­ray was se­lected ninth over­all by the Oak­land A’s in June’s MLB draft, the thought of him ac­tu­ally hav­ing a shot to play in the NFL was a mere fan­tasy.

He was the heir to 2017 Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner Baker May­field, tak­ing over as quar­ter­back for a tra­di­tion­ally high-pow­ered Ok­la­homa squad. But listed at just 5-foot-11 and around 195 pounds, there was no chance of Mur­ray play­ing on Sun­days un­less it was a 1:05 mati­nee with the A’s. The only real con­cern on Oak­land’s side of things was mak­ing sure Mur­ray just got through the sea­son healthy.

Six months later, things have changed.

Mur­ray hasn’t just filled in ad­e­quately as May­field’s re­place­ment, he has shined to the point that he is now seen at the very worst a co-fa­vorite for the Heis­man Tro­phy along with Alabama

quar­ter­back Tua Tago­v­ailoa. On Thurs­day, Mur­ray was named the As­so­ci­ated Press Col­lege Foot­ball Player of the Year.

As of Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, Fan­duel has Mur­ray as the leader in the club­house as a -140 fa­vorite for the Heis­man, and with good rea­son. The red­shirt junior has gone bonkers this sea­son, ac­cu­mu­lat­ing 4,945 yards and 51 touch­downs as he has led the Soon­ers to a 12-1 record and a berth in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­offs. A’s gen­eral man­ager David Forst could get a chance to get a closer look at the prized prospect if Ok­la­homa makes it to the CFP ti­tle game at Levi’s Sta­dium next month.

Mur­ray hasn’t got­ten any big­ger in terms of stature, but his draft stock might be ris­ing with the emer­gence of smaller quar­ter­backs cur­rently thriv­ing in the NFL such as Pa­trick Ma­homes, La­mar Jack­son and May­field.

NFL draft ex­perts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay went back and forth on ESPN this week, Kiper la­bel­ing Mur­ray a sec­ond-rounder be­cause of his height, and McShay pro­ject­ing him as a first-rounder be­cause of the chang­ing na­ture of the league.

The spec­u­la­tion over whether Mur­ray could ac­tu­ally choose foot­ball over base­ball was se­ri­ous enough to the point that Scott Bo­ras, Mur­ray’s agent, tried to douse the flames ear­lier this week when he straight­for­wardly told Fan­cred’s Jon Hey­man, “He will be in spring train­ing with the A’s.”

But take a look at this an­swer Mur­ray gave Tim Te­bow in an in­ter­view dur­ing ESPN’s Col­lege Gameday last week.

“I think that’s some­thing me and my fam­ily will talk about at the end of the sea­son and weigh out the op­tions of what the NFL thinks of me,” Mur­ray said.

Doesn’t ex­actly sound like some­one fully ready to give up foot­ball just yet.

Mur­ray does have base­ball blood lines — his un­cle, Calvin, was a 1992 first-round se­lec­tion by the San Fran­cisco Gi­ants who spent five sea­sons in the ma­jors — but foot­ball is clearly a sport in­grained in the Mur­ray fam­ily.

Kyler’s fa­ther, Kevin, was a quar­ter­back at Texas A&M from 1983-86. Kyler took the Mur­ray name to the next level as he was twice named Mr. Texas Foot­ball in high school, go­ing 43-0 as quar­ter­back at Allen High.

So what hap­pens if Mur­ray de­cides to con­tinue play­ing foot­ball at the high­est level? He might be out $4.7 mil­lion, which was the sign­ing bonus given to him back in June, and the A’s will have wasted a valu­able top-10 first-round pick.

This is of course some­thing the A’s were will­ing to risk when draft­ing him due to his im­pres­sive tools, which drew com­par­isons to Bos­ton’s Jackie Bradley Jr.

“We just felt Kyler was a unique tal­ent. It’s some­thing you come across rarely in what we do,” A’s Di­rec­tor of Scout­ing Eric Kub­ota said af­ter draft­ing Mur­ray. “The risk of the foot­ball was in our opin­ion out­weighed by the up­side on the base­ball field.”

AP FILE

Ok­la­homa quar­ter­back Kyler Mur­ray had a sen­sa­tional sea­son with the Soon­ers, but does his suc­cess mean he will head to the NFL?

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