John Hoover

John E. Hoover: Kyler Murray doesn’t have Baker Mayfield’s edge, but he’s more than happy to keep proving everyone wrong

John E. Hoover: Kyler Murray doesn’t have Baker Mayfield’s edge, but he’s more than happy to keep proving everyone wrong

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray sprints away from a touchdown on his final play as a Sooner while center Creed Humphrey continues to block without his helmet in the Sooners’ 45-34 loss to No. 1 ranked Alabama in the Orange Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover/The Franchise)

Kyler Murray finally answered a few questions on Thursday.

Well, not really. But he showed up to the NFL Scouting Combine and allowed himself to be weighed and measured, and thus questions about him were answered, whether he liked it or not.

The official answers: Murray is small but no shrimp. He stood 5-foot-10 and 1/8-inches, which was a skosh taller than most everyone figured. He weighed 207 pounds, which is 12 pounds over his listed playing weight at Oklahoma and, frankly, might not be the best scenario for his frame. And his hand span (tip of the pinky to tip of the thumb) measured at 9 ½ inches, which is bigger than Missouri’s Drew Lock and Heisman predecessor Baker Mayfield and quite a few other NFL QBs.

So Thursday was a big win for Murray.

Conventional wisdom on his ballooned-up weight is that it is all part of the carefully calculated plan: he added fast pounds, mostly water weight, to influence the NFL’s official scales and so will not run, jump or do any agility drills in Indianapolis; and now Murray has 13 days to drop to an ideal weight that will allow him to post impressive numbers at his Pro Day in Norman on March 13.

But apparently, Murray has chosen not to participate in any passing drills at the combine, either, meaning his only reason for going is to get measured, submit to NFL medical exams, meet briefly with any teams interested in drafting him, and stage a press conference.

In his one season directing the Sooner offense, Murray was simply a remarkable replacement for Baker Mayfield, breaking a handful of Mayfield’s records, leading to the Sooners to the same finish and even repeating Mayfield’s Heisman win.

But Murray continues to show that he and Mayfield are polar opposites in so many other areas of the game.

His rock-paper-scissors with Marquise Brown after a touchdown was as excited as we ever saw Kyler Murray. Mayfield, on the other hand, waved his arms and incited the crowd and buoyed his teammates and talked trash before, during and after games.

Mayfield’s pot was always boiling. Murray’s is set to simmer.

“I don’t really let the outside or everybody else affect me as far as making me play harder or anything like that,” Murray said last week. “I play the game because I love the game. Nobody’s ever had to get me ready for a game.”

“I may seem cooler or calmer than Bake. We’re obviously two different people. But some people get ready for stuff differently. I could look like this and go out and kill you. It just doesn’t affect me. I am who I am.

“Chip on my shoulder? I was just born with the mentality to go win.”

Remember the fuel Mayfield burned before last year’s combine, when skeptics thought he might measure up below 6-foot even. When Mayfield’s official number came back 6-foot and 5/8 inches, inside he was back in the Cotton Bowl, sprinting up the sideline, exhorting Sooner Nation to rise to their feet and proclaim him their king.

Murray heard it all leading up to his combine experience: too small, too short, too slight, 5-7, 5-8, probably not even 5-9 — and silenced all his doubters Thursday just by standing still.

One announcement — “FIVE ONE ZERO ONE!” — did all Murray’s talking for him.

“It’s just who I am,” Murray said. “I am how tall I am. I do enjoy being one of the smaller quarterbacks around the country. People talk about it all the time, ‘How do you do it,’ or question, ‘Can it be done?’ So yeah, I always look to prove people wrong.”

Murray acknowledged last week that he felt early on in his football career that being short would hold him back. He said he felt he would probably have to prove himself at a “lower level school” before he took over the starting job at Allen High School as a sophomore and college coaches and recruiting services immediately began to notice him.

“Once I kind of heated up in the recruit process, I kind of knew how people felt about me,” he said. “And then having to come to the college level and prove it again, I think it’s just part of it. But now the NFL is the last level. There’s no football league after the NFL. So I think everybody is kind of over — I don’t want to say ‘over the height deal,’ but I think it’s becoming more of a normal deal.

“I think it’s always been a thing for me. But the only way I can really (prove myself) is just go play and keep playing and kind of prove the height thing doesn’t matter.”

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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.

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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