Deciding Factor

One of the most anticipated decisions in sports has reached a conclusion. Four days before he was set to report to the Oakland Athletics spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona, Oklahoma Sooners quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray announced on February 11 that he is choosing football over baseball.

“Moving forward, I am firmly committing my life and time to becoming an NFL quarterback. Football has been my love and passion my entire life. I was raised to play QB, and I very much look forward to dedicating 100 percent of myself to being the best QB possible and winning championships,” Murray announced on Twitter.

The decision ended months of speculation as to what sport Murray would pursue professionally. Before the start of the 2018 college football season, Murray was drafted ninth overall in the MLB Draft by the Oakland Athletics and signed a contract with a 4.66 million dollar signing bonus. However, the A’s agreed to allow Murray to play one more season of college football at the University of Oklahoma before fully committing to baseball. Despite being ranked the thirteenth overall recruit coming out of high school and showing flashes at Texas A&M, no one foresaw the type of season Murray was about to have. After watching former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield win the Heisman last season and become the no. 1 overall pick, the pressure was on for Murray. Not only did he meet the expectations, he exceeded them. Murray became only the second player in the history of college football to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season, joining former Clemson star Deshaun Watson. Murray’s play went beyond the statistics, as he quarterbacked Oklahoma to a twelve and one record with a Big XII Championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff.

After Oklahoma’s season-ending loss to Alabama, many assumed that would be the last time Kyler Murray stepped on a football field. However, Murray remained noncommittal about his future, giving rise to the speculation that he might choose football over baseball.

Despite confidence from the A’s that Murray would honor his contract and re- port to spring training, many observers remained convinced that Murray would choose football. The A’s confidence was ultimately not rewarded as Murray chose football and was forced to return nearly all of his signing bonus.

“We still have the rights to him, but it looks to me he is going to have a nice little football career. We are going to be rooting for him,” A’s Manager Bob Melvin said.

Now that Murray has officially decided to focus on football, headlines will turn to his future as a quarterback in the NFL. The biggest concern for many is Murray’s height. Listed at 5’10’’, Murray would be the shortest starting quarterback in league history. His height test will arguably be the most important activity he partakes in at the NFL Scouting Combine. In an era where NFL teams are more willing to break from the traditional pocket passer model at quarterback, the right team with the right coaching staff could develop Murray into a more than viable starting quarterback in the NFL. Despite all the criticism leveled his way, Murray’s talent is unquestionable and has the potential to make him the first athlete ever selected in the first round of both the MLB and NFL Drafts. Murray’s decision to spurn the MLB in favor of the NFL will be talked about for years to come. The only question left to answer about the decision: was it the right one?

Contact Zachary Schiller at zschiller@colgate.edu.

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