On Saturday, Kyler Murray played his last football game at the collegiate level, but there's still much to be resolved over which path the two-sport athlete will pursue.
"I love him," one anonymous MLB scout told Jeff Passan and Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports regarding the Oakland Athletics prospect and Heisman Trophy winner. "He can be a star. Plus speed, good raw power, legitimate center fielder. But he's so far behind the curve because of football, it's going to take longer for him to develop. And I really wonder if the football bug is too strong for him to say no."
Murray, 21, is coming off a remarkable Heisman-winning season for the Oklahoma Sooners, beating out Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa. The diminutive star quarterback finished the season with 4,053 passing yards, 892 rushing yards, and 51 total touchdowns.
When Alabama and Oklahoma met in the College Football Playoff though, it was Tagovailoa who prevailed, leading his team to a 45-34 victory in the Orange Bowl.
Despite finishing as the NCAA's best, Murray has remained steadfast in his commitment to MLB, having been selected ninth overall by the Athletics in last June's draft. Oakland allowed their first-round selection to complete his final season of football, but declaring for the NFL draft would reportedly lead to Murray forfeiting a large portion of the $4.66-million signing bonus he was awarded by the A's.
Murray's stature is the most commonly cited reason he would choose baseball over football, with many NFL scouts believing his 5-foot-9 frame would not work at the professional level.
"He's an NFL quarterback with everything other than height," former general manager and vice president of the Cleveland Browns Mike Lombardi said. "Do I think he’s going to be a first-round pick? I think he has more of a skill set than Russell Wilson and he’s got a (Patrick) Mahomes kind of arm. I don’t know his baseball skills, but I think the high-end is higher in football."
The deadline for college players to declare for the NFL draft is Jan. 14.