A’s, NFL wait for Mur­ray to choose

The Detroit News - - Sports - BY MARTIN GAL­LE­GOS Bay Area News Group As­so­ci­ated Press con­trib­uted.

Oak­land, Calif. — When Kyler Mur­ray was se­lected ninth over­all by the Oak­land A’s in June’s Ma­jor League Base­ball 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 mat­inée 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 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 mi­nus-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 spot 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 stature, but his draft stock might be ris­ing with the emer­gence of smaller-sized bi­garmed quar­ter­backs cur­rently thriv­ing in the NFL such as Pa­trick Ma­homes, La­mar Jack­son and Baker May­field.

NFL draft ex­perts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay went back and forth on ESPN on Wed­nes­day, 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 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 he’s ready to give up foot­ball yet.

Play­ers killed in crash

For­mer ma­jor-league play­ers Luis Val­buena and Jose Castillo were killed in a car crash caused by high­way ban­dits who then robbed them, of­fi­cials said Fri­day.

The 33-year-old Val­buena and 37-year-old Castillo died late Thurs­day when their SUV crashed as it tried to veer around an ob­ject placed in the road, Yaracuy state Gov. Julio Leon Here­dia said on his Twit­ter ac­count.

He said four peo­ple have been de­tained af­ter be­ing found with prop­erty of the ath­letes.

Val­buena and Castillo were team­mates on the Car­de­nales de Lara team in the Venezue­lan win­ter league and were re­turn­ing from a game in the cap­i­tal when the crash oc­curred en route to Bar­quisimeto.

Val­buena, an 11-year ma­jor league vet­eran, hit .199 with nine homers and 33 RBIs in 96 games this year for the Los An­ge­les An­gels, who re­leased him on Aug. 7.

Castillo played five sea­sons with Pitts­burgh, San Fran­cisco and Hous­ton.

Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro said in a tweet that “I join in the mourn­ing that has over­whelmed the Venezue­lan base­ball fam­ily and all of its fans.”

Jeff Chiu/As­so­ci­ated Press

Kyler Mur­ray’s agent claims the player is com­mit­ted to the Oak­land A’s, but a Heis­man Tro­phy-wor­thy foot­ball sea­son gives him op­tions.

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