The drama in the Oklahoma quarterback room just got a lot more dramatic.
Eric Baily of the Tulsa World reported Friday that Austin Kendall, who backed up Heisman winner Kyler Murray last season, has entered the NCAA transfer portal and intends to explore his options as a graduate transfer, according an unnamed source “close to the situation.”
Kendall is a 6-foot-2, 219-pound third-year sophomore from Waxhaw, N.C. He’s played in only seven games in his career, completing 28-of-39 passes for 265 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He played in two games as Baker Mayfield’s backup in 2016, then redshirted in 2017 as Murray backed up Mayfield, and then played in five games last season as Murray’s backup.
Players entering their name into the transfer database allows other schools to contact them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re transferring. Technically, Kendall is simply exploring his options. Kendall still retains the option of returning to OU if he decides that’s his best course. He already has graduated and has two years of eligibility remaining.
Kendall was expected to compete for the starting job in 2019, but a decision to transfer would not be altogether shocking. The Sooners seem to be building around incoming freshman Spencer Rattler, a five-star dual-threat prospect from Arizona.
Rattler, however, won’t be on campus until this summer.
OU’s only other scholarship quarterback is 6-2, 206-pound Tanner Mordecai, who played in two games this season and completed 2-of-4 passes for 37 yards. Mordecai, from Waco, Texas, can still claim 2018 as a redshirt season.
Lincoln Riley might still be in the market for adding a transfer quarterback to the OU roster. Speculation has centered on Alabama senior Jalen Hurts, who put his name in the portal this week.
Kendall’s decision comes on the heels of this week’s report that the Oakland A’s expect Murray to declare for the NFL Draft. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Murray would announce his departure on Sunday, though there are rumors that he might announce before that. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Monday.
NFL Draft insider Gil Brandt posted on Twitter this week that he would not be surprised to see Murray return to OU. Brandt, one of the architects of the original Dallas Cowboys dynasty who now is a senior analyst for NFL.com, told The Oklahoman on Tuesday it was “just a hunch. Just a feel is what it is.”
Murray returning to Norman for his senior year would certainly fuel Kendall’s desire to play elsewhere, but with Murray’s contractual agreement with the A’s and the club’s insight into his desire to explore an NFL career, it seems more and more unlikely that Murray plays for the Sooners in 2019.
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.