Kyler Murray was supposed to play professional baseball. After serving as the Oklahoma quarterback this past fall, the Sooners' center fielder would report to spring training with the Oakland Athletics, who drafted him with the No. 9 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and who he signed with about two weeks after the selection.
But then Murray took the college football world by storm. He threw for more than 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns and added 1,000 yards and 12 scores on the ground, carrying Oklahoma to its third College Football Playoff appearance in four years. In his only season as a starter, Murray won the Heisman Trophy and morphed into an elite NFL prospect.
Murray's historic season complicated his future plans, but he ultimately decided to pursue a career as a thrower rather than a retriever, setting him up to potentially become the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
“I didn’t really know how the NFL felt about me because I hadn’t played in two and a half years or so,” Murray said while speaking to reporters at the NFL Combine. “After having the season I had, going into that season with the mindset of doing my thing, lay it all out there and we’ll see what happens at the end of the day. That’s what I did. The NFL kind of heated up and here we are.”
Coming out of high school, Murray was one of the highest-rated quarterbacks in the country. After a season where he split time as the starter for Texas A&M, Murray transferred to Oklahoma, where he was forced to sit out a season before backing up Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield in 2017. Murray's time finally came last season and he flourished. He completed 69 percent of his passes for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns. He also showcased his mobility, running for 1,001 yards.
According to Kyle Crabbs of the Draft Network, “Murray is a fascinating NFL Draft prospect. His size presents limitations to consistently see intermediate breaks in the [middle of the field] and will pose an injury concern in the NFL. Murray has speed, escapability, a powerful throwing arm and enough general accuracy to allow gifted catch point receivers to adjust and ensure the catch. Murray is not a "one-size-fits-all" prospect, but in an offense utilizing RPO/spread concepts, he can be an explosive weapon and an effective starting QB.”
Take a look at photos of 2019 NFL Draft prospect Kyler Murray.
Many of the questions about Murray's stature were put to rest at the Combine when he measured in at 5-foot-10 and 207 pounds. Due to this size, along with his blazing speed, Murray has drawn a lot of comparisons to Seattle Seahawks quarterback and six-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson, who recently became the NFL's highest-paid player. Murray said he's spent a great deal of time studying Wilson's game and has a unique appreciation of his success, which bolsters the case that shorter quarterbacks can excel in the NFL.
“I’m always the smallest guy on the field," Murray said. "I’ve said it multiple times, I feel like I’m the most impactful guy on the field. I’m the best player on the field at all times. That’s just the confidence that I have in myself and that my teammates have in me. I’ve always had to play at this height. I don’t know. Everyone’s trying to make it out to be something, but I just have to go out there and play the game that I love.”
Baseball has factored into Murray's football career as well. He's gained valuable physical skills on the diamond and learned about patience and dealing with failure.
Just don't expect Murray to be shagging fly balls any time soon.
“Yes, it’s a final decision. I’m here. I’m ready to go," Murray said. "I was born a football player."