Posted on February 11, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray has made a decision about his future, and he’s chosen football. The former Oklahoma quarterback announced via Twitter on Monday that he will hold off on pursuing a career in professional baseball so he can focus solely on playing professional football. A year ago, Murray seemed committed to a baseball career, but after a Heisman winning season with the Sooners, he seemed to waver. Now it’s official that he’ll be putting all of his eggs in the NFL basket.
The Oakland Athletics drafted Murray with the 9th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. However, the club allowed him to play football this past season at Oklahoma, where he served as the backup to Heisman winner Baker Mayfield the previous season. The A’s initially expected him to play football in the fall but then report to spring training this season. But after Murray won the Heisman, they were less certain. The team engaged in talks with Murray, hoping to convince him to stick with baseball. Alas, they were unsuccessful in those talks.
“Moving forward, I am firmly and fully committing my life and time to becoming an NFL quarterback,” Murray said in a tweet Monday. “Football has been my love and passion my entire life. I was raised to play QB, and I very much look forward to dedicating 100% of myself to being the best QB possible and winning NFL championships. I have started an extensive training program to further prepare myself for upcoming NFL workouts and interviews. I eagerly await the opportunity to continue to prove to NFL decision makers that I am the franchise QB in this draft.”
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Murray made no mention of the A’s in his statement. However, it’s clear that he won’t be reporting to spring training later this week and starting his career as an outfielder. After he was drafted last year, Oakland promised Murray a $4.66 million signing bonus. He received $1.5 million of that bonus in June, and will now have to give back 1.29 million of it. By choosing the NFL and not reporting to spring training, Murray will forfeit the remaining money on that $4.66 million signing bonus.
Now that Murray is committing to football, he is officially one of the top quarterbacks available in this year’s draft. Many mock drafts have him as the second quarterback being taken behind Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins. Most of those mock drafts have him being selected in the 1st round. If that ends up happening, Murray will be the first athlete ever selected in the 1st round of both the NFL and MLB drafts.
Despite being undersized for a quarterback at (a generously listed) 5’10”, NFL scouts are intrigued by Murray’s incredible speed and athleticism. He also has both impressive arm strength and accuracy, completing 69% of his passes while throwing just seven interceptions this past season. Even if he lacks traditional size, a quarterback with Murray’s skill set is a rarity in the NFL, making him a fascinating player to watch moving forward.
Obviously, if things don’t work out for Murray in the NFL, he could return to baseball one day. After all, Tim Tebow has had some success doing so, and he was never the high-level baseball prospect that Murray was when drafted. However, rather than sticking with baseball or finding a way to do both, Murray is moving full speed ahead toward the NFL. Whether it’ll end up being the right decision remains to be seen. But there’s little doubt that he will be fun and interesting to watch.