NORMAN — Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, now a favorite in the Heisman Trophy race, is staying grounded during his visit to New York City this weekend.
The junior understands the two other finalists for college football’s top award — fellow quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) and Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State) — have had great seasons. During a Monday night session with reporters, he said he’s grateful for the opportunity.
“For me, I’m just blessed to be a part of it. I’m not going into it thinking ‘Oh yeah, it’s mine, I’m going to win’ or anything like that,” Murray said Monday night. “I’m just going into it with clear eyes, open-minded and just have fun.”
On Saturday night, one of the three will be introduced as 2018 Heisman Trophy winner. Murray will play the waiting game during a one-hour ESPN broadcast that includes plenty of buildup to the final reveal.
“It’s part of it. I’ve grown up sitting and watching three or four guys sitting in those seats and waiting to hear their names called with whoever wins it,” Murray said. “Dap up the other guys and go up there and accept your award. For me, it’s not nerve-wracking. To be a part of this, it’s pretty crazy for me considering the fact that I hadn’t played meaningful snaps in two or three years. I’m pretty excited.”
Oklahoma has had six Heisman Trophy winners in its storied history: Baker Mayfield (2017), Sam Bradford (2008), Jason White (2003), Billy Sims (1978), Steve Owens (1969) and Billy Vessels (1952).
If Murray wins, it will be the first time in Heisman history that one school has had a quarterback win the award in back-to-back years.
Murray said he’s had recent conversations with Mayfield.
“Oh yeah, I talked to Bake. I think it was yesterday or the day before yesterday,” Murray said. “Just telling me how much fun it is, the experience he had and what to expect, basically. Nothing major.”
The deadline for submitting Heisman ballots was 4 p.m. Monday and it’s likely that Murray’s late charge — especially in Saturday’s 39-27 win over Texas in the Big 12 Championship game — drew votes.
Murray was named the Most Outstanding Player after ending 25-of-34 passing for 379 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 39 yards.
Murray now has 4,945 yards of total offense in 13 games, breaking Oklahoma’s single-season record set in 14 games by Mayfield last year (4,938 yards).
Murray zoomed atop the leaderboard with 1/2 odds (up from 7/2) from Bovada following the Big 12 championship. Tagovailoa, who has been a favorite for much of the season, fell to second. He now sits at 3/2 (down from 1/5).
Haskins is the only other player with odds to win college football’s top trophy according to Bovada. He sits at 60/1.
Murray admitted that the past weekend probably helped but, “I really don’t pay attention to much of that stuff. For me, all I can do is just go out and play and if people vote for me, they vote for me. If they don’t, they don’t.”
If Murray wins, Oklahoma would be the fourth program with back-to-back Heisman winners. Others include Yale’s Larry Kelley and Clinton Frank (1936-37), Army’s Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis (1945-46) and Ohio State’s Archie Griffin (1974-75). USC had accomplished the feat in 2004 (Matt Leinart) and 2005, but Reggie Bush had his trophy vacated.
Murray has a busy week ahead of him, which includes a Thursday appearance at the Home Depot College Football Awards show in Atlanta, where he is a finalist for the Maxwell Award and the Davey O’Brien. A Friday arrival is necessary in New York City, where he will join the other finalists in a press conference before ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
There were some anxious moments leading into the four-team announcement for the College Football Playoff, but a time of celebration after the news was released. Shortly after, he said his father sent him a text message with plenty of emojis.
After this week, all attention will be on the national semifinal game against top-ranked Alabama.
“I wouldn’t be here without my guys, coaches, my family, just thankful for all the work that’s been done,” Murray said. “But for me, we’ve got hopefully two more games left and that’s really what my focus is on. But obviously, great honor and yes, it’s been a great day.”