Those who know — the ones who really know, like Deion Sanders, or Bo Jackson — advised Kyler Murray to do just one thing when choosing a career path between pro baseball or pro football.
Follow your heart.
Murray did that today, posting to Twitter that he is “fully committing my life and time to becoming an NFL quarterback.”
Murray followed his heart and will enter the NFL Draft.
“Football has always been my love and my passion my entire life,” Murray wrote “I was raised to play QB, and I very much look forward to dedicating 100 percent 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.”
That means Murray will have to pay back almost all of the $4.6 million signing bonus the Oakland A’s gave him last summer when they drafted him No. 9 overall in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft.
That shouldn’t be much of a hardship. Murray and his team will immediately start reaping the dividends of football in the form of endorsements and other marketing opportunities. That’s where the real money lies. But then when Murray eventually signs with his future team as a high draft pick, he’ll find the contracts for NFL quarterbacks are much, much more lucrative than they are for MLB outfield prospects.
The A’s might not have been all that smart when they allowed Murray to play a season of college football. All Murray did was set copious amounts of records for passing and offense and scoring and lead his team to another Big 12 championship and a College Football Playoff appearance and win Oklahoma’s second consecutive Heisman Trophy.
But really, it’s hard to fault the A’s. Like the rest of us, they didn’t think there was much chance a 5-foot-10, run-around quarterback, who technically hadn’t even won the starting job at OU yet, was going to win the Heisman and turn himself into a first-round NFL Draft pick, no matter what his four months on the college football circuit produced.
Now Murray turns his attention to becoming the first player in history to get drafted in the first round of both the MLB and NFL drafts. Will it happen?
That question might sound silly on this day, but conventional wisdom still must ask. The list of sub-6-foot quarterbacks drafted in the first round — well, such a list almost doesn’t exist yet.
Johnny Manziel was 5-11 and ¾ at the combine in 2014 and went to Cleveland with the 22nd pick. Michael Vick, the No. 1 overall pick in 2001, measured exactly 72 inches when Atlanta selected him.
Thirty-four years ago, 5-10 Doug Flutie won the Heisman and set all kinds of records and was an 11th-round and had to play in three different leagues. Even Russell Wilson, who’s 5-11 and has two Super Bowl appearances and one trophy, was a third-round pick by Seattle in 2012.
But conventional wisdom in the NFL is changing. Has changed. And Murray can partially thank his OU predecessor, Baker Mayfield, for changing it. Mayfield measured just 6-foot and 5/8ths at last year’s scouting combine, and all Mayfield did was set the NFL rookie record for passing touchdowns and nearly lead a winless team and moribund franchise to the playoffs.
Some NFL teams will stay on the hunt for 6-4 QBs, but some undoubtedly now look at Mayfield’s impossibly high standards and embrace the idea that a short quarterback can be a great quarterback.
Murray is Michael Vick 2.0, but with more accuracy and fewer inches.
Murray has a live arm. He’s extremely accurate. He has a quick release and can throw on the run with both fury and finesse. He has poise and pocket presence, and he can run like the wind.
College football learned that last season. The NFL will learn it soon enough.
But what really counts is that Murray has always known it.
All it took was for him to follow his heart.
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.