John Hoover

John E. Hoover: Kyler Murray’s confidence, work ethic, ability and circumstances produced Sooners’ 7th Heisman winner

John E. Hoover: Kyler Murray’s confidence, work ethic, ability and circumstances produced Sooners’ 7th Heisman winner

 

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray lifts the Heisman Trophy after becoming the Sooners’ seventh Heisman winner. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover/The Franchise)

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.

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley and quarterback Kyler Murray pose with the 2018 Heisman Trophy. It’s the second year in a row for Riley to pose with the winner at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover/The Franchise)

“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).

Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (left to right) pose with the 84th Heisman Trophy during a photo op on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover/The Franchise)

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.”

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Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “The Franchise Drive” every weeknight from 6-8 on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and appears throughout the day on other shows on The Franchise. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.

 

Heisman voting

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

John Hoover

Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he's now co-host of "Further Review" on The Franchise Tulsa (weekdays 12-3, fm107.9/am1270) . In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. Hoover also covered Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts and the NFL as a beat writer. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist. As a columnist, Hoover won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

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