Oklahoma’s quarterback competition took an unexpected twist at the Major League Baseball draft.
Kyler Murray, the favorite to replace Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield as the Sooners’ starter this year, was selected ninth overall by the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.
The speedy Murray has been a major league prospect since high school. He played outfield for the Sooners this baseball season and hit .296 with 10 homers, 13 doubles and three triples in 189 at-bats.
Still, his selection so early in the first round was a surprise, and could mean a change in careers for the former five-star recruit. The slot value for the No. 9 pick is $4,761,500. If the A’s don’t sign him, they would lose that amount from their available bonus pool this year but would get the No. 8 pick as compensation next year. The deadline for Murray to sign is July 6.
Murray was one of the most celebrated high school football players in Texas history, going 42-0 as a starter and leading powerhouse Allen High to three state titles before signing with Texas A&M in 2015. He played eight games and made three starts as a freshman for the Aggies, passing for 686 yards and running for 335. But he left the team before its bowl game and transferred to Oklahoma the next season.
He sat out to satisfy NCAA rules in 2016, and figured to be in line to start in 2017. But Mayfield, who also transferred to Oklahoma, was granted an extra year of eligibility and returned to the Sooners for his final college season.
That left Murray with limited playing time in 2017. He completed 18 of 21 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 142 yards on 14 carries. He made one start, playing the first series against West Virginia after Mayfield was benched for sideline antics against Kansas the week before.
With Mayfield off to the NFL as the No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Browns in April, Murray was set to get his turn at the helm. Oklahoma football coach Lincoln Riley declined to name a starter after spring practice, when Murray competed with redshirt freshman Austin Kendall.
During the spring game, Murray completed 11 of 21 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown and rushed nine times for 35 yards. Kendall completed 11 of 18 passes for 134 yards and a score. Murray is an excellent runner but small for an NFL quarterback at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds.
Oklahoma football’s official Twitter account posted: “Congrats @TheKylerMurray! #OUDNA” after he was selected by the Athletics.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.