It’s decision time for Kyler Murray.
The two-sport star is widely projected to start at quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners on the football field this year, but that scenario became much more nuanced on Monday night when the Oakland Athletics made Murray the No. 9 overall pick in the Major League Baseball Draft.
The draft value for that pick is $4.76 million, according to MLB.com.
Murray has several options:
- Leave school immediately and begin his pro baseball career. His athletic gifts are undeniable, but to succeed at baseball on the next level, he’ll need to polish those gifts into sport-specific skills.
- Return to play football at OU this fall — he has yet to win the job in a competition with Austin Kendall — then embark on his baseball journey with A’s next spring.
- Thank the A’s for their interest and return to play football at OU in 2018 AND 2019, then give baseball a shot.
With the money that’s available — and clearly the A’s are willing to invest it in Murray as they work with him on his choices — football might no longer be Murray’s best option.
Just last week at the Sooner Caravan stop in Tulsa, OU football coach Lincoln Riley confidently said he expects Murray to be with the football team this summer and at the start of training camp, rather than playing pro or even semi-pro baseball as he did last year in the Cape Cod League.
“I don’t really care a whole lot about what happens in the draft,” Riley said. “I’ve had good conversations with Kyler, his family and I fully expect him to be with us. I really don’t have any worries about it.
“Everybody else has been a lot more worried about it than me. I haven’t lost one night of sleep on it, so I apologize if anyone else has. I mean, I knew the deal getting into it. When he first decided to leave A&M we had very candid conversations with him and his family about it. They have lived up to their word — every part of it. I have no doubt they’ll continue to do so and I think they’d say the same about us.
“He’ll be with us this summer.”
Murray played center field and batted cleanup for the Sooner baseball team this season, which ended earlier Monday. Murray had been projected a potential first- or second-round pick, but he found out the A’s had drafted him ninth overall when the Sooner travel party landed in Norman upon its return from the Tallahassee Regional.
As his baseball skills began to blossom this season, Murray batted. 296 and was second on the team with 10 home runs, 47 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. He sustained a hamstring injury in the Big 12 Tournament last week in Oklahoma City and missed the last six games of the season, including all four games in the NCAA Tournament.
Murray came to OU as a transfer from Texas A&M, where he played in eight games (three starts) as a true freshman from Allen, Texas. In College Station, the 5-foot-10 Murray completed 59.5 percent of his passes for 686 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions.
As OU’s backup to Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick Baker Mayfield last season, he played in seven games and completed 18-of-21 passes for 359 yards with three TDs and zero interceptions.
He also rushed for 335 yards in 2015 at A&M and 142 yards last season at OU.
At Allen, Murray was a consensus five-star prospect and led his team to a 43-0 record and three consecutive state football championships. He became the first player ever selected to participate in the Under Armor All-American Games in both football and baseball.
His father and uncle both played professional baseball. His uncle Calvin played in 288 games in the Major Leagues, and his dad Kevin also played quarterback at A&M.
Baseball analysts had widely predicted clubs would have a difficult time signing Murray because of the allure of being a quarterback at Oklahoma, and if a team did take the risk, negotiations might be contentious because Murray’s heart lies with football.
But many of those same baseball analysts also had projected Murray as a likely second-round pick.
Monday’s events may have changed the dynamic.
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “The Franchise Drive” every weeknight from 6-8 on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Catch him 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.