Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley made it clear over the last few days that he believed quarterback Kyler Murray would stay with the Sooners and play football this fall instead of immediately turning pro in baseball if he was drafted early. Turns out, Murray was drafted earlier than anyone expected ... and Riley was still right.
Though Murray was selected No. 9 overall in the 2018 MLB Draft by the Oakland A's on Monday night, he confirmed a few hours later that he will play football for the Sooners this fall. Moreover, he noted that the A's are OK with his plan. (It would be unfathomable for them not to be if they're drafting him that high.) Murray had previously been mum regarding his future.
Kyler Murray: “I will be playing football this year"— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) June 5, 2018
Tuesday afternoon, Riley followed up Murray's quote from Monday night's teleconference with one of his own confirming that Murray will stay with the program.
Statement from head coach Lincoln Riley on Kyler Murray: pic.twitter.com/j4Mhl1qgWP— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) June 5, 2018
According to MLB.com, the ninth pick has a slot value of about $4.76 million. Right off the bat -- no pun intended -- that was a lot for Murray to consider. Before Monday night's surprising pick, he was generally considered a late-first round prospect at best. It will be interesting to see how much of that value he obtains considering his decision.
The talented outfielder had quite the season on the diamond for Oklahoma, batting .296 with 10 homers, 47 RBI, 46 runs and a .398 on-base percentage over 51 games.
As a quarterback, he started his college career at Texas A&M before transferring to OU, where he spent the 2017 season as the backup to Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Murray was initially considered the frontrunner to start this fall, but a tight competition with redshirt freshman Austin Kendall bled into the spring game. However, with Murray acknowledging that he plans to stay at OU for at least one more season -- he has two years of eligibility left -- it seems likely that he will get the nod before the season.
Murray's decision could come down to him wanting to prove himself on the football field. There's no denying baseball is objectively the better option for him for many oft-stated reasons: more money, a longer career span and the like. And at 5-foot-11, Murray's football ceiling has never been considered as high. However, he was a five-star prospect and the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback coming out of Allen High School in 2015. Between transferring from A&M and sitting on the bench in 2017, he hasn't quite lived up to his recruitment hype. If he wins the starting job this fall -- and he'll have an opportunity to change that.
Remember, too, that Murray can do both -- for now, at least.