MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray said he’s trying not to think of the possibility that Saturday’s matchup against Alabama could be the last competitive football game of his career.
The Heisman Trophy winner signed a $4.66 million contract to play baseball with the Oakland A’s this summer, but he hasn’t nixed the possibility of playing in the NFL.
“It’s never bad to have options,” Murray said Thursday, “but right now my main focus is this game.”
Even at the time of his signing with the A’s — when it was agreed that he’d play one football season at Oklahoma before reporting to the team — Murray said he believed he was capable of playing in the NFL.
“Obviously it wasn’t in the air, but I’ve always felt I could play in the NFL,” he said. “I’m a confident guy. There’s not a lot of short quarterbacks in the league, but I think there’s more guys paving the way for the transition of not really caring about how big you are, how tall you are. I’ve played this game my whole life and I’ve always felt I could do it.”
That said, he insisted his thought process hasn’t changed over the course of the season when it comes to weighing a future in the MLB versus the NFL.
“Nothing has changed,” he said. “I haven’t put any energy into worrying about it or anything like that. All I can do is go out and play on Saturday and let my play speak for itself.”
This season, Murray has thrown for 4,053 yards, 40 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He has rushed for 892 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The fourth-year junior and former transfer won the Heisman Trophy, beating out Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The two will go head-to-head on Saturday in the CFP semifinal game at the Capital One Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens.
Murray, who missed a media opportunity on Wednesday with an illness, said he was feeling much better Thursday. Asked whether he would be fine to play on Saturday, he said, “Yes.”
Oklahoma assistant head coach Shane Beamer compared Murray’s ability to that of former NFL star quarterback Michael Vick. Beamer and Vick played together at Virginia Tech in 1999.
“I never thought I’d see Michael Vick again, but Kyler is the closest thing because of the speed, for one, the accuracy and the arm strength,” Beamer said. “You’ve maybe seen other guys come along who had one of the three or two of the three. But Kyler is accurate. Kyler has insane arm strength, and he’s so fast. And they’re both fierce competitors in anything and hate to lose.”
Said offensive coordinator Cale Gundy: “I was visiting with one scout back in fall camp, and he was like, ‘He’s 5-9, he can’t play in our level.’ And I saw the same guy at the Big 12 championship game before the game, and he came up to me and he goes, ‘He’ll be a first-round draft pick if he wants to come out.'”
Murray described a balancing act of emotions, being committed to playing professional baseball while playing one final season of football.
“You try to tell yourself it will be easy,” he said, “but at the end of the day I expected this. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect to have success on the baseball field and the football field.”