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Transfer QB Kyler Murray waiting his turn
When Oklahoma’s 2017 season opener with Texas-El Paso kicks off the first Saturday in September, it will have been just shy of 600 days since Kyler Murray last participated in a collegiate football game.
That’s a long stretch and a lot of potential rust for a quarterback whose game is built on timing, mechanics and finding a rhythm.
After transferring in from Texas A&M at the conclusion of the 2015 season — when Murray started several games at QB for the Aggies — the 5-foot-10, 195-pound speedster spent all of 2016 running the Oklahoma scout team offense. This past spring, Murray split time between the OU baseball team and football workouts, honing his skills as a potential two-sport star.
Murray was one of the stars in the annual Red-White Spring Game, completing 9 of 13 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown.
It was an encouraging performance for Murray and served as a reminder that OU has more than one viable backup for starter Baker Mayfield.
“Kyler has been in the system now for a year. I think he's a lot more comfortable with what we're doing,” said coach Lincoln Riley after the spring game effort.
Murray carried over the momentum into the offseason and then into fall preseason camp. He has continued to work hard and demonstrate an ability to make plays with both his legs and arm.
“He has looked good in practice (this fall),” said Riley. “Kyler is like that dog sitting on the porch and then that car runs by — he doesn’t have to get up and stretch or do anything, he’s full speed right now.
“It’s really pretty remarkable what the guy can do athletically. The way he has
transitioned back in from baseball, it looks like he hasn’t missed any time at all.”
For Murray, his long road back to varsity football has been about patience and focus.
“The first day back, I was a little rusty — but I feel good,” said Murray in early August. “I’ve been playing this game all of my life, so I know what to expect and I’m ready for it. I’m definitely excited about the season and having the chance to get back out there on the field and possibly contribute.
“After having to sit out for a year, it’s been fun to be back in the mix and competing again.”
With Mayfield expected to potentially find his way into the Heisman Trophy mix again this fall, there has been speculation that the Sooners might try to move Murray around in an attempt to get him on the field in some capacity.
But Riley and his staff have kept the Allen, Texas, native in the QB rotation, along with sophomore Austin Kendall and a trio of walk-ons.
“I’m a quarterback, so I don’t really know about any of that,” said Murray. “Baker is the returning starter and he’s a great competitor, so right now I’m focused on improving and being the best I can be.
“If that means waiting my turn, so be it. I’m not going to stress over it — I just have to be patient and do whatever I can to help the team.”
Murray was a consensus five-star prospect when he signed with Texas A&M in 2015 after producing a memorable prep career that saw him rush and pass for a combined 14,500 yards and 186 touchdowns. He led Allen High to three straight state championships and did not lose a single game (43-0) in his three seasons as the program’s starting quarterback.
In 2015, he started three games as a true freshman for the Aggies, and eventually played in eight games in all. Murray completed 60 percent of his passes that season and was the team’s second-leading rusher with 335 yards.
But by the end of that fall, Murray had decided to leave the program, and he contacted coach Bob Stoops about playing for the Sooners. A month later, he was enrolled at OU and working out with the team.
“It’s been great since I got here. I had a lot of trust in Coach Stoops and now in Coach Riley. I feel I’m in the right place,” said Murray.
(Editor's Note: This story appears in the August 2017 Kickoff Preview issue. To read more or subscribe, call 405-364-4515)