By Michael Kinney
A year ago, it didn’t seem like Kyler Murray’s life could get any better. After playing part-time for the Oklahoma baseball team, the Allen, Texas native was drafted in June by Oakland Athletics with the No. 9 overall pick. Murray’s future seemed to be set on the baseball diamond.
Fast-forward to Thursday night and Murray heard his name called once again. This time it was as the No. 1 overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL draft, which was held in Nashville.
Murray became the first player to ever be selected in the first round by the two professional leagues. But make no mistake about, Murray has chosen football as his career path.
“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid,” Murray said. “All the hard work. Everyone that has been in my corner and pushed me to be here, I can’t thank them enough. I have to thank God. This is surreal.”
Murray also became the second Oklahoma quarterback in two years to be taken No. 1 overall. Baker Mayfield was chosen by the Cleveland Browns in 2018. The two Heisman trophy winners face off in Week 15 of this season.
“I’m just so proud of Kyler and the way he’s handled this entire process,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “He’s gone through something that no one has ever gone through with the amount of scrutiny in different sports, the hype that he’s had since he was such a young kid. To see him get to this moment as the No. 1 pick, that’s been his dream. To see him live this part of it out is awesome.”
Oklahoma has now produced 45 first-round NFL draft picks in its history, and is now tied with Auburn, Notre Dame and USC with five No. 1 overall selections. They include defensive lineman Lee Roy Selmon (1976), running back Billy Sims (1980), quarterback Sam Bradford (2010) and Mayfield.
At just 5-foot-10, Murray also made history by being first quarterback under 6-foot to be drafted in the first round. But his height seems to not have been a concern for the Cardinals.
Murray’s new coach is also an old acquaintance. Kliff Kingsbury, who was the coach at Texas Tech before being fired earlier this year, has known Murray since he was 15 years old. Despite the Cardinals using a first-round pick on quarterback Jeff Rosen in 2018, when Kingsbury took the job, it became an almost automatic that they were going to take Murray.
“He’s a dynamic talent, a unique talent that I don’t know if anyone has seen,” Kingsbury said.
However, General Manager Steve Keim did have to be convinced, slightly.
“I’m not going to lie to you, I was reluctant,” Keim said. “I did not want to watch the tape, I did not want to fall in love with the player. I watched more and more, saw the things he can do. As I continued to get to know the person, as we did all our homework, our due diligence, the more and more I became convinced this was the right guy for us.”
Joining Murray in the first round was wide receiver Marquise Brown. The speedy receiver was taken by the Baltimore Ravens with the No. 25 pick.
Brown gave an emotional interview after being drafted in which he talked about everything he has had to overcome.
“Marquise’s story is well-documented,” Riley said. “What are the chances a guy who had to walk to work and fight his way just to get to junior college ends up being the first receiver taken? I’m thrilled for him and his opportunity. He’s going to bring a lot to the Baltimore Ravens. Their fans will love his explosiveness, which we really came to appreciate the last couple of years at Oklahoma.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider