When Oklahoma lost to Alabama in the College Football Playoff, Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray was forced to confront the possibility that he may have played his last football game.
Murray was drafted by MLB’s Oakland Athletics in June and signed a contract that included $4.66 million guaranteed. The plan had been to start a professional baseball career after the college football season ended (the A’s had allowed him to play more more season of college football). But then Murray had an extraordinary season and won the Heisman Trophy.
I’ve talked to a few scouts who also are also under the impression Murray likes football more than baseball, but Murray has been evasive when asked the question during media availabilities. According to one teammate, the quarterback has made his feelings known in the locker room. After the Orange Bowl, Sooners guard Ben Powers says, Murray told him he likes football more than baseball.
“If he chooses football it's because he loves it,” says Powers, a draft prospect at the Senior Bowl this week. “I've talked to him one-on-one about it pretty often and I told him he should do both [sports]. Why not? Go try it. You have a special opportunity that not many people have.”
Murray said during Heisman media availability that he’d like to play both sports if possible, and on Wednesday night he posted a video that plays up the wild idea that he may try. The video shows highlights of his college football and baseball careers, and he posted it with this Bruce Lee quote: “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water.” However, playing both football and baseball professionally would be next to impossible, especially for a quarterback.
Murray has declared for the NFL draft, but that was a procedural move to keep his options open. He could still choose baseball. A’s spring training begins in about a month. “I think he will try to see where he gets drafted,” Powers says. “From there, I don’t know what he’s going to do.”
Making a decision after the draft is highly unlikely—interested NFL teams will want some kind of assurance from Murray that he is all-in on football before spending a high draft pick, and the spring training schedule would conflict with the pre-draft schedule.
The other question NFL teams are investigating with Murray: Will his lack of size (at OU he was listed at 5' 10", 195 pounds) affect his ability to play at the next level?
“We had a lot of big guys on the O-line at Oklahoma,” says Powers. “He didn't hit any of our helmets with any balls, and he was able to make plenty of passes and see over us. So I don't think there's an issue there.”
Adds Dru Samia, another Oklahoma lineman at Senior Bowl: “I don't think there is anything in the offense that has been limited by any of Kyler Murray's measurables. The only thing about his measurables is that it opens up the playbook, because he's super fast and we can run different plays. It doesn't close anything up.”
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, who is coaching the North team this week, mentioned how Murray has played a role in forcing him to reconsider his idea of the quarterback prototype.
“I used to think that a lot until I saw Drew Brees twice a year in Tampa, then I met Russell Wilson coming out of N.C. State, and now I’m watching this kid Murray at Oklahoma,” Gruden said Tuesday during his press availability. “I’m putting away all the prototypes that I once had. I used to have a prototype for hand size, height, arm length, all that stuff. We’re looking for guys that can play and do a lot of different things. They come in all shapes and sizes nowadays.”
Murray wasn’t at the Senior Bowl this week, but he was a big topic of conversation. That will be the case as long as a football career is still on the table.
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