Quarterback still says no to NFL

Tyler Palmateer The Norman Transcript
Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray still plans to give up football after this season to focus baseball. Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS

NORMAN (TNS) — Kyler Murray’s future remains in baseball, as of now.

The Oklahoma quarterback, who’s arguably having the best individual season in college football outside Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, said he still plans to give up the sport and focus on baseball after this year.

“I feel like I could play in the NFL,” Murray said. “But as far as giving [football] up, as of now, yeah, that’s the plan.”

Murray has pressing issues at hand, like facing Texas in the Big 12 championship Saturday, but questions about his next step will increase over the next month.

He was drafted No. 9 overall by the Oakland Athletics in the 2018 MLB Draft, and his $4.66 million contract with the Oakland Athletics reportedly stipulates he must join the team following OU’s season.

But Murray’s comments have consistently kept a door open about a potential professional football career. OU coach Lincoln Riley said it will be “an interesting question” what Murray and his family decide to do.

Playing both is an option, though an improbable one. Former two-sport professional stars like Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson — the latter has been a model for OU’s “Kyler Knows” Heisman Trophy campaign — didn’t play quarterback.

“Obviously the fact that he would want to play quarterback, if he chooses the football route, is a little different that Deion or Bo or some of those guys,” Riley said. “But he athletically is so gifted and can transition between the two. Conventional wisdom would think, like in spring, that he would have a hard time going from throwing a baseball to throwing a football. And he’s not throwing it any better now than he did in the spring during the middle of baseball. He can athletically transition between the two.”

• Sooners lose WR commit: OU lost a standout wide receiver from its 2019 recruiting class when Arjei Henderson reopened his recruitment Monday.

It’s the second time Henderson, a four-star product from Richmond, Texas, has decommitted from OU. He initially pledged in February 2017, then backed out of his decision that April. Rivals.com ranks him the No. 34-ranked receiver nationally.

OU still has commitments from two five-star 2019 wideouts. Theo Wease is ranked the nation’s No. 2 player overall, according to Rivals, and Trejan Bridges ranks No. 25 overall.

• Help from Beaty: Texas coach Tom Herman confirmed Monday that former Kansas coach David Beaty will work as a consultant for the Longhorns ahead of the Big 12 championship game.

From a broad perspective, that practice doesn’t sit well with Riley.

“Coach Beaty can do what he wants to do,” Riley said. “I don’t like the precedent of it, of being able to bring in somebody from the league in the same year. I don’t think it’s good for the conference. It’s not against the rules, and if they want to do it, that’s fine.”

• Horns down?: Flashing the upside down “Hook ‘em ‘Horns” symbol has long been practiced by Texas’ opponents. But West Virginia quarterback Will Grier was flagged for doing so in a game earlier this season.

Riley said he has reached out to Big 12 officials for clarity on whether players can be penalized for the hand gesture.

“I will make sure it’s fully clear to our guys what they can and can’t do,” Riley said.

OU linebacker Kenneth Murray said the issue hasn’t been addressed with players yet.

“Obviously you don’t wanna get a penalty,” Murray said. “You don’t wanna hurt your team so as a team, that’s what we’re focused on.”

• Injury report: Riley said no new injuries occurred against West Virginia last week, but the news on others who didn’t play isn’t promising.

Safeties Jordan Parker, Kahlil Haughton and Justin Broiles were all out against the Mountaineers. Linebacker Mark Jackson also didn’t play.

“I don’t expect to have anybody back this week that wasn’t available against West Virginia,” Riley said.

• This, that: Kyler Murray (offensive player of the week), Kennedy Brooks (newcomer) and Austin Seibert (special teams) claimed Big 12 weekly honors. Murray’s is his fifth, tying former Texas running back Ricky Williams’ single-season record. … According to Bovada, Murray’s Heisman odds increased to 7/2, behind leader Tua Tagovailoa (1/5). … OU offensive line coach/co-offensive coordinator Bill Bedenbaugh is not among the finalists for the Broyles Award (nation’s top assistant).