NEW YORK — Kyler Murray has never lacked confidence. He always knew greatness waited for him. He always felt there was a legacy out there with his name on it.
A legacy, and now a bronze statuette.
Murray won the 84th Heisman Trophy on Saturday night in Times Square, maybe the only place in America that could match his blindingly brilliant abilities and his flashy style of play on the football field.
“I was always confident in my abilities,” Murray said. “I always knew what I was capable of. I just think being at OU, the right fit for me, the right people around me, obviously great teammates, great coaches, and I knew this offseason that we had something special.
“You put hard work into it, you’re bound to be successful.”
Despite that brimming confidence, a small part of Murray probably wondered if he could somehow keep filling the prodigious shoes of his predecessor, Baker Mayfield, and win college football’s biggest individual prize. The fact is, Mayfield and Murray, teammates for two years in Norman, will be forever and inextricably linked.
· Mayfield grew up in Texas, started out his college career at Texas Tech and transferred to Oklahoma. Murray grew up in Texas, started out his college career at Texas A&M and transferred to Oklahoma.
· Mayfield, who’s now starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, helped Oklahoma to three Big 12 Championships. Murray, who will play professional baseball next season, got his championship last week with an epic performance against Texas in the Big 12 title game.
· Mayfield guided the Sooners to two College Football Playoff appearances in his three years as the Sooners’ starter. Murray secured OU’s playoff trip this year with a stellar fourth quarter against the Longhorns, punctuation of a remarkably dynamic, efficient and productive season.
· Mayfield won last year’s Heisman with a season for the ages, big wins and eye-popping statistics and impressive records and, improbably, a new standard for quarterback play at OU. Murray, having outpaced many of Mayfield’s single-season accomplishments in 2018, now has a Heisman Trophy of his own.
“I’ve said it multiple times — I give him credit for the way I’m playing right now,” Murray said. “(Playing as a freshman at Texas A&M) helped me and gave me confidence in ways because, like I said, I played against great (teams) — that Alabama team, LSU, stuff like that — and got to see how it’s done.
“But once I got to Oklahoma and got to see how he operated and to see how it’s done was probably the biggest part for me.”
Murray is OU’s seventh Heisman Trophy winner, tying Ohio State, Notre Dame and USC for most ever. Murray winning on the heels of Mayfield makes OU just the fifth school in history with back-to-back Heisman winners, joining Yale in 1936-37 (Larry Kelley and Clinton Frank), Army in 1945-46 (Doc Blanchard and (Glenn Davis), Ohio State in 1974-75 (the only two-time winner, Archie Griffin), and USC in 2004-05 (Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, though Bush’s win was later vacated).
Murray beat out Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins for the most prestigious individual trophy in all of American sport.
Murray was the ninth overall pick in last year’s Major League Baseball draft, and he signed a baseball contract that paid him a $4.6 million signing bonus. Yet, he’s refused to give up football and continues to be rewarded for chasing his dream.
He has thrown for 4,053 yards with 40 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He’s completed 70.9 percent of his passes, his passer efficiency rating is 205.7 (which would break Mayfield’s NCAA record set last season) and his ESPN QBR (quarterback rating) is 96.0 (currently another all-time record).
Murray said he still draws from his two seasons behind Mayfield (one as a redshirt transfer, one as Mayfield’s backup).
“For me, it was more so just watching and observing how he succeeded on this level,” Murray said. “Me and him are good friends, so it wasn’t like I was picking his brain 24/7, every hour of the day. I was in meetings with him every day, I’ve practiced with him every day, just competing against him and sitting there just continuing to be around him and watch him do his thing on Saturday was probably the biggest thing for me. Seeing his pre-snap reads — all types of stuff like that. There wasn’t anything I can specifically tell you, but I’m a good learner, I’m a quick learner, so watching him was definitely helpful to me.”
|2018 Heisman Trophy balloting||1st||2nd||3rd||Total|
|1. Kyler Murray, Oklahoma||517||278||60||2,167|
|2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama||299||431||112||1,871|
|3. Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State||46||111||423||783|
|4. Will Grier, West Virginia||4||17||80||126|
|5. Gardner Minshew, Washington State||6||15||74||122|
|6. McKenzie Milton, Central Florida||4||4||19||39|
|7. Travis Etienne, Clemson||0||6||17||29|
|8. Quinnen Williams, Alabama||1||4||7||27|
|9. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin||1||2||19||26|
|10. Darrell Henderson, Memphis||0||3||15||21|
|Regional voting for finalists||Northeast||Mid-Atlantic||Midwest||South||Southwest||Far West|
|Kyler Murray, Oklahoma||327||360||339||356||415||370|
|Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama||274||309||291||375||323||299|
|Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State||125||120||202||114||119||103|