The Heisman Trophy winner has a decision to make (maybe)

Kyler Murray had it all planned out. Having just signed a contract to play professional baseball with the Oakland A’s, he would suit up on the gridiron for one final season of college football before reporting to Oakland.

While it’s certainly risky to play football knowing you already have millions waiting for you in a safer sport, I understood why Murray had to do it. Quarterbacking is in his blood and there is nothing in the sport of baseball that offers what playing QB offers. He had come too far and worked too hard on the football field to just walk away now and spend the rest of his life wondering. So again, the idea was to give it one last go.

No longer was there a Kyle Allen or a Baker Mayfield standing in his way. The 2018 Oklahoma Sooners football team was his to lead. Who knows? The Sooners might even win a bowl game or a conference title in the process.

The critics and doubters probably felt foolish by the time the dust settled over Ames, Iowa following Oklahoma’s dispensing of a good Iowa State team in Week 3. In that game, Murray threw for 348 yards and completed 75% of his passes while also running for 75 yards. Two weeks later he went for over 400 yards passing and 6 touchdowns while completing 81% of his throws. For good measure he ran for a TD as well.

By now, it was becoming clear that the Oklahoma team was in the midst of a potentially special season. A date with Texas looked to be the only thing standing between coach Lincoln Riley’s team and a perfect season. Though the Sooners lost that one in a 48-45 thriller, Murray shined by throwing for over 300 yards and four touchdowns. Add in 92 yards rushing and another score, and Murray had emerged as a dark horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy.

Oklahoma got back on track after losing to the Longhorns, and for Murray, the stats just kept piling up. There was the 51-46 shootout at Texas Tech where he threw for 360 and ran for 100. Three weeks later, he knocked off a West Virginia team that had reached the No. 8 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings. He threw for 364 and ran for 114 in that game. A trip to the Big 12 Championship Game still left them with a shot at claiming one of the four playoff spots. First though, they’d have to knock off Texas, who had already beaten them. Murray threw for 379 yards while making big plays with his feet en route to defeating Texas.

Oklahoma’s bid for a National Championship was ultimately thwarted by Alabama, but even in that loss, Murray showed big-play ability and the flashes of brilliance that NFL scouts are now drooling over. Yes, he is still frighteningly small for a quarterback. But after winning the Heisman Trophy while displaying one of the most exciting sets of skills college football has ever seen, the question now is not about whether Murray can play in the NFL. The question now is whether Murray should choose football over the MLB career that is already waiting for him in Oakland.

There are teams interested in Murray as a quarterback, and even more that would take a chance on him to use in a hybrid role. So what will he do?

Some people argue he’ll go back to baseball because the money is too good to pass up. However, I’d point out that money doesn’t seem to be a huge factor for Kyler or else he wouldn’t have risked the possibility of injury by playing football. Plus quarterbacks taken in the first round do pretty well for themselves financially. Besides, Murray would immediately step onto a football field earning millions of followers and growing a personal brand rather than toiling on long bus rides through minor league towns for two years or more before hitting the big-time in MLB.

If his height isn’t going to limit interest from NFL execs, and if money really isn’t an issue, then it seems like either choice is a great one for Kyler Murray. I personally don’t think that he will walk away from the game of football. And I don’t think he should. In fact, not only do I hope that Kyler Murray plays quarterback in the NFL, I hope he also plays for the Oakland A’s. Why should he have to choose?


Tom Hoggard is sports director/media consultant at East Carolina Radio. He hosts the Outer Banks Sports Report on 98.1 The Score Monday through Friday from 7 to 9 a.m.

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