NORMAN — The Kyler Murray sweepstakes took a turn Wednesday.
The Oakland Athletics expect the former Oklahoma quarterback to enter the NFL Draft on Sunday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser.
Murray was the A’s top choice in the MLB Draft last summer going No. 9 overall. When asked about his future this season, his admitted plan has always been he will play professional baseball, but he often included the caveat “for now” in those explanations.
According to The Chronicle, multiple sources indicate Murray is now leaning toward a football career. Though his declaration for the NFL Draft doesn’t mean he will forgo his $4.66 million contract with the A’s, it does decrease the likelihood he will pursue baseball.
Underclassmen have until Jan. 14 to declare for the NFL Draft. MLB position players report to training camp Feb. 15 — 11 days before the NFL combine takes place.
Murray began the year as an undersized QB without an expected future in pro football, but threw for 4,361 yards and rushed for 1,001, accounting for 54 total touchdowns which helped him claim the Heisman Trophy. His baseball agent, Scott Boras, had been steadfast that Murray would join the A’s, but he toned down that rhetoric after his client won football’s most prestigious award.
“When you win the Heisman Trophy, you’re going to have a lot of information come to you to be looked at,” Boras said at MLB winter meetings. “All I know is Kyler has a tremendous opportunity to be a great baseball player and he knows that … He has every intention to be in spring training and advance that interest.”
There’s an outside possibility Murray could return to OU. Former Dallas Cowboys vice president of player personnel Gil Brandt, a close friend of OU coach Lincoln Riley, tweeted last week that he wouldn’t be surprised if Murray returned to school.
According to the OU Daily, Murray is enrolled in nine hours at the university, which could indicate he’s leaving that option open as well.
It’s a decision that’s been coming for some time.
Murray, who claimed the Earl Campbell Award on Wednesday, was always going to have options. Scouts and his coaches have been firm in saying he could have an NFL future if he desired one.
“Everybody knows he’s got a big decision to make,” Riley said the week before the Orange Bowl. “He’s in a great situation. I mean, the guy is already the ninth overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft, and I think he’ll probably be somewhere around the same spot if he chooses to go football-wise. I realize those — there’s a lot that goes into that, what teams are selecting, what their needs are, but we just had a guy go first overall the year before, and I think this guy is that kind of impact player, and certainly a rare athlete, one of those that you very well may go through the rest of your career coaching and never have one like that again. I mean, he’s that unique.”