Could Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Kyler Murray, of Oklahoma, stick with football after all? The talk about it has been picking up in recent weeks.
Murray, 21, was selected ninth overall in the first round of the MLB Draft last summer by the Athletics. He signed for $5 million, but was still allowed to play football for the Sooners this past season because he's still an amateur in football. All along, his agent Scott Boras has insisted that he's going to play baseball and if Murray does decide to hit the NFL Draft instead of playing baseball, he'd have to give back a large portion of that signing bonus.
Still, the rumors persist. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report reports that Murray entering the NFL Draft and sticking with football is "heating up" while 49ers play-by-play guy Greg Papa said (via NBC Bay Area) that Murray could stay at Oklahoma another year while also playing in the minors in the A's system:
"I've heard a lot of rumblings that he may go back to Oklahoma and play next year again, which would still allow him to play for the A's in their minor league system," said Papa. "You can be pro in one sport and amateur in the other, as we know. So, he may do that."
But that's just speculation, and there's reason to think Murray won't be playing both sports heading forward. For starters, his agreement with the Athletics doesn't permit him to return to Oklahoma. Murray could, theoretically, declare for the NFL draft ahead of this weekend's deadline, but in doing so he'd likely have to give up on his baseball ambitions. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Wednesday, NFL teams aren't keen on the idea of sharing their starting quarterback with another league. For Murray, it's going to be one sport or the other:
The Chronicle source said NFL teams would not want Murray to play baseball because of the steeper learning curve for a rookie quarterback and the everyday demands of the position.
Murray plays center field in baseball and, obviously, can't still play for Oklahoma this spring. Last year, he hit .296/.398/.556 with 13 doubles, three triples, 10 homers, 47 RBI, 46 runs and 10 stolen bases in 51 games last season for the Sooners. Scouts see huge upside -- obviously, as a starting quarterback was taken in the first round of a baseball draft.
Murray faces a very difficult decision in the "nice problem to have" department. It's awfully tough to play minor-league baseball and college football at the same time. If he chooses the NFL, he has to give a ton of money back to the A's. If he chooses baseball, he faces possibly a few years of slumming it in the minors after getting to play in front of 85,000 people for one of college football's marquee programs that was just in the College Football Playoff. Further, getting to Major League Baseball -- even for first rounders -- is far from a sure thing, whereas getting picked in the first round of the NFL pretty well guarantees being on an NFL roster immediately.
As noted, it'll surely be a tough decision for Murray.