Eight months after being selected No. 9 overall by the Oakland Athletics, Oklahoma Sooners quarterback and 2018 Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray has announced his decision to play professional football.
Baseball was long considered the prudent path for Murray, who had signed a $4.6 million contract with the A’s in the summer of 2018. However, after the organization agreed to allow him to play one final season of college football, the Allen, Texas native eclipsed even the most optimistic of expectations as Oklahoma’s quarterback. In the process, Murray displayed levels of arm strength, athleticism, poise and football IQ that were more than enough to cause professional scouts to rethink their position on the guy.
Listed at 5’10” (and standing a bit shorter in reality), people within NFL circles have grown much more confident in his ability to transition to the highest level of the sport. After all, the game is beginning to change in a way that better suits his skill set and makes his shortcomings (no pun intended) a bit less of a concern. The success of former teammate Baker Mayfield certainly hasn’t hurt his cause either.
Murray, who played center field for the OU baseball team in the spring of 2018, has an incredibly high ceiling in the sport in which he was originally drafted. His speed on the base paths was something that reminded A’s fans of Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, and he was just beginning to scratch the surface in the batter’s box. However, Murray was still raw as a baseball player and likely would’ve needed some time to develop. The life of a minor league ballplayer is the opposite of glamorous, and even with the reported Major League-level contract potentially coming his way, Murray can actually make more money in shorter order as a first-round NFL QB.
Kyler Murray will return $1.29 million of the $1.5 million signing bonus money the Oakland A’s gave him last year. He forfeits the remaining $3.16 million due March 1. The A’s will put him on the restricted list and retain Murray’s rights, but they don’t get a comp draft pick.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 11, 2019
Oklahoma’s seventh Heisman Trophy winner will be in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine later this month. How much he will actually do is yet to be seen, but it’s beginning to look like would take a catastrophe to keep him from hearing his name called in the first round. Murray has the ability to change the way in which football fans perceive the quarterback position, and some lucky NFL fan base is going to experience the joy of watching him do it.