The next Bo Jackson/Deion Sanders could be upon us. Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Kyler Murray looks to be a first-round pick in this April’s NFL draft should he choose to enter it. But as you might remember, Mr. Murray also was chosen ninth overall in last June’s MLB draft by the Oakland A’s. While he is a magician at quarterback for Oklahoma, he also is a firestarter at center field and in the batter’s box for the Sooners. And you are reading right, he could become the first athlete to ever become a first-round draft pick in both sports. He’s THAT good.
But if he can’t play both sports as a professional, the choice of which sport to pursue is not only an easy one, it’s an obvious one: baseball. Here are the five biggest reasons Murray should drop the helmet and pick up his glove and bat.
1. He is not even close to reaching his potential in baseball
When you go to the University of Oklahoma to be a football player, you are a football player first and foremost. No two ways about it. And that’s what Murray did when he transferred in from Texas A&M. But he still had baseball in his blood. And he could be a run-of-the-mill NFL quarterback that starts with him sitting the bench for a couple years. But baseball? He is almost undoubtedly on track to a Hall of Fame career in baseball.
According to OU assistant baseball coach Clay Van Hook, he is still “500-to-600 at-bats away from reaching his potential” just because he has spent so much part-time work on baseball since football was the priority at Oklahoma. But Van Hook also was careful to explain, “This last spring, the light went on in his baseball career. He was facing first-round draft picks like Nick Lodolo at TCU and was saying ‘Man, I am seeing that ball so clear’ about his pitches.” And his blazing speed was obviously an asset in center field and on the base paths.
“We were playing Baylor and he was on first. They knew he was gonna steal. We knew he was gonna steal. Everybody knew he was gonna steal. And they even had All-American Shea Langliers at catcher. He’s got a 1.8 pop time and Murray still stole second off of him with ease. He’s just amazing.”
Just think how good he’ll be once he actually plays baseball full-time? If he concentrated solely on baseball at OU he could’ve been the No. 1 overall draft pick.
2. Three letters, C-T-E
Playing quarterback, especially if he is drafted by a cruddy also-ran team, is going to get you beaten down to a moist spot in the dirt. Baseball?... Well, you could have a day where you go 0-for-5 or 1-for-4 but you’re not going to have 300-pound Ndamukong Suh supplanting your whispy butt into the sod and giving you a concussion. Thus, no brain injuries that will cripple you later on in life. I know that’s harsh, but it’s legit. Make your money safely. Don’t risk getting your brain squashed in football.
3. He’s 5’10” people. 5-freaking-10.
... or maybe even truly 5’9”. There are very very very very few quarterbacks with diminutive sizing that are more than mere novelties in the NFL. Look at Doug Flutie. Look at Johnny Manziel. Those dudes did not have lengthy professional football careers. I mean, at least they didn’t dominate the sport like a Cam Newton. Or a Peyton Manning. Or a Philip Rivers. You get the idea here. Oh sure, Russell Wilson is the exception, being 5’11” but the chances of Murray being a 10-year veteran in the League? Very slim.
4. Two words: guaranteed contracts
Though he can make more money initially as an NFL quarterback and high draftee, eventually the money will be better the longer his career goes in baseball. In addition to that, Major League Baseball contracts are guaranteed. In the NFL, a career-ending injury also could find you kicked to the curb with no money coming in.
5. He was drafted by a great organization
Think about what the A’s have done for this wildly-talented wunderkind. They have completely indulged him in all his pursuits. They allowed him to play football this fall where he won the Heisman Trophy. They also seem inclined to allow him to attend the Scouting Combine instead of spring training. And they appear to be willing to go so far as to ask MLB to stretch their rules so the A's can sign Murray to a major league contract with even more guaranteed money. In short, the A's have laid down their jackets for Murray to cross over puddles. Oakland may not be winning World Series titles but the organization has have treated him very well. If he goes the football route, he is risking getting picked by the Jets or the Bengals or, egad, the Raiders.
— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.
(Top photo by Eric Sorenson)