By: Dawson Wright
Earlier tonight, SF Chronicle’s Susan Slusser broke the story that the A’s expect Kyler Murray to enter the NFL Draft. In the weeks leading up to this news, we have heard from Scott Boras himself that Kyler Murray is going to play baseball. But after a story like this, Murray’s future seems puzzling.
Just to get a few things straight, Murray entering the NFL draft does not mean that he will not play baseball at all. Plus, he may not be happy with the team that selects him.
There has been a lot of hype around Murray, with the whole winning the Heisman thing. But it is to be noted that his baseball skills are just as good, if not better. Murray has speed, contact, solid defense, and even a little bit of pop. Last season with the Sooners the red-shirt sophomore had a slash-line of .296/.398/.556 and slugged ten home runs. Oklahoma baseball coach Skip Johnson said, "He's still in the process of maturing as an athlete. He's dynamic, he's physical. He reminds me of Andrew McCutchen." The A’s then selected him with the 9th overall pick, and allowed Murray to play one last season of football, or so they thought.
During his final season at Oklahoma, Murray posted a 199.2 passer rating and threw for over 4,000 yards. He was one of the biggest stories of the college football season, and that may have been a realization for him that football is what he wants to do.
However, is there a chance he can play both? Well yes, but it’s very slim. This wouldn’t be the first time we have seen a two-sport athlete with big names like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders coming to mind. Murray may want to be the next one of those two-sport stars that we will remember for a lifetime. After all, that is the route that he has taken before.
Four years ago, Murray was drawing serious interest from MLB teams out of high school, and had the chance to be a first round pick in the MLB Draft. Murray declined, as he wanted to pursue his two-sport dream in college. But this time around, there are a lot more strings attached.
As much as teams would like their players to become as big of a star as Bo Jackson was, there is serious concern of injury, especially when you consider size. Bo Jackson was a 6’1” 230 pound bat-breaking beast of a man. While Murray is still an amazing athlete, Bo was one of a kind.
But what about Deion Sanders? Sanders was skinner, and he put up some solid numbers as an outfielder, especially in Atlanta. Well, the difference between Kyler Murray and Deion Sanders is Sanders was the one giving the hits, while Murray will be the one taking them.
It is important to note that if Murray choose football and it didn’t work out, that the A’s would retain the professional baseball rights if he wanted to come back to baseball, or try out playing both.
Murray declaring for the NFL Draft was certainly a surprise, but it may not mean the break up of Kyler and baseball. His decision will likely come down to what team he is drafted to in the NFL, or we could have another Tim Tebow.
Dawson Wright is the Senior Baseball Writer and Reporter for The Dugout, and covers the San Francisco Giants and Major League Baseball.