Devy Football Factory

The Next Lamar Jackson? Why Kyler Murray is a budding college football star

The Sooners two-sport star athlete made national headlines when he was selected 9th overall by the Oakland A’s in the 2018 MLB Draft this week. Kyler Murray was presumed to be the Sooners’ starting quarterback for the upcoming 2019-2019 season, so this caused some stirring among national media and a restless few hours for Sooners fans after the draft. However, Kyler has already come out and said he WILL play football for OU in 2018 and will go on to the MLB once the season is over and that the A’s are fine with him doing so. In other words, Murray still gets his contract and gets to be the Sooners’ starting quarterback in the fall. He. Will. Play. Period, end of discussion. National media folks will go on about his decision for days, but he and Coach Lincoln Riley have come out and said he will play in the fall. There are some people who will still question whether he’ll be the starter this fall, but I doubt he committed to play football if he wasn’t 100 percent sure he wouldn’t start. So, any questions about that can be tossed aside.

For those of you who play college fantasy football or like to bet on teams, this is excellent news. Pick. Kyler. Murray. This guy is a college football star in the making. He has all the talent in the world to help Oklahoma stay at the top of college football and is a legit Heisman contender. For those of you looking for your next Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray is your guy. For reasons such as

And….

(Expect to see plenty of Murray to Brown this year by the way)

Kyler Murray is ridiculously talented. If he was 5 inches taller and 30-40 pounds heavier and still doing this stuff, we’d be praising him as the best quarterback prospect since Luck. OU’s been spoiled with having the best quarterback in football the last three years, and Kyler has the talent to ensure there is no drop off from Baker Mayfield’s departure.

Murray’s best trait is his athleticism. Excelling in two sports almost requires being a great athlete, and Murray has it in spades. He possesses acceleration that many running backs would be jealous of and he’s got the elusiveness of LeSean McCoy when he takes off. I’ve taken to calling him a “jitterbug” in the open field because of this.

Kyler Murray also has excellent arm talent, which is to be expected being a star baseball player and a top quarterback. I’m gonna go out on a major limb and say Kyler has the best arm talent OU has had since Sam Bradford. This dude can put some mustard on his throws and he is on target at every level of the field.

Because of his ability as a runner and his arm strength, some will say he is just another Jalen Hurts. This is false. Entirely false. Murray possesses poise and accuracy expected of an experience starter and is not just a run-first quarterback. He has demonstrated an ability to throw with touch and anticipation at all levels.

Murray has an exceptionally quick release, probably a carryover from his baseball experience. This release helps him hit receivers on time and drive it into tight windows and angles.

Kyler Murray also showcased an ability to quickly read and go through his progressions, as well as patience in the pocket to wait and read his keys. Even though he mostly played in limited “garbage time”, it is encouraging to see this ability.

Another point in Murray’s favor is his familiarity with the offense. He has sat for two years now, all with Lincoln Riley as his coach. Baker Mayfield’s best year at OU came in his third year, once he really settled in with the playbook and took command. Murray has the mental acuity to be that same type of leader and has learned from Baker Mayfield and Lincoln Riley for two seasons. Riley even had designed plays for Kyler Murray last year even with Mayfield being the starting quarterback. You can be sure Coach Riley has been salivating at the opportunity to really open up the playbook to take advantage of Murray’s talent as a runner and a passer.

Kyler Murray has been a highlight reel quarterback his whole life. In fact, Kyler Murray was named the MaxPreps high school quarterback of the DECADE. Yes, DECADE. As the quarterback for Allen high school, he went 42-0 as a starter, won three Texas state titles, threw for 10,386 yards and 117 touchdowns, and ran for 4,139 yards and 69 rushing touchdowns. If those numbers don’t excite you, I don’t know what will.

History is on his side too. Some of the most recent top DUAL QBs recruits like Kyler Murray include Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Florida State’s Jameis Winston, USC’s Sam Darnold, and Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater. All of these guys have one thing in common: success.

OU’s Offense

We all know Oklahoma has the best offense in college football, they have for the last three years. With the departure of mainstays like Baker Mayfield, Orlando Brown, Dimitri Flowers, and Mark Andrews, the Sooners have faced a lot of offseason questions about whether they still have “offensive talent to win”. Let’s look at what OU returns around Kyler Murray this season.

RBs: Rodney Anderson, Trey Sermon, Kennedy Brooks, Marcelias Sutton, TJ Pledger

This running back core for OU is among the nation’s best. Rodney Anderson is a Doak Walker candidate and was a huge reason OU had so much offensive success down the stretch. Trey Sermon played very well as a freshman last season for OU and offers the Sooners a nice power runner to play with Anderson. Kennedy Brooks played a lot of OU’s spring game and looked very sharp carrying the football there. Pledger is a talented freshman who should compete for playing time. This is an absolutely loaded running back group and offers plenty of talent around Kyler Murray.

Receiving corps: CeeDee Lamb, Marquise Brown, Grant Calcaterra, Charleston Rambo, Mykel Jones, Jaqualyn Crawford, Kundarrius Taylor

CeeDee Lamb was an absolute stud for the Sooners last season at receiver and is one of the best returning receivers in college football. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is the most explosive playmaker in the country, finishing with an astounding 19.2 yards per reception on just 57 catches. Grant Calcaterra is the heir apparent to Mark Andrews at TE/Y-slot receiver and flashed a ton in limited playing time as a freshman last year. Rambo was a former 4-star receiver who redshirted last season, but offers plenty of talent to the Sooners. Mykel Jones played well for the Sooners down the stretch and seems ready to take that next step for Oklahoma this season. Jaqualyn Crawford and Kundarrius Taylor offer plenty of speed and athleticism for the Sooners as freshman and could compete for serious playing time.  This whole group has plenty of talent and should make life easier for Kyler Murray throwing the ball.

Offensive line: Bobby Evans, Ben Powers, Dru Samia, Cody Ford, Tyrese Robinson, Marquis Hayes, Adrian Ealy, Creed Humphrey, Darrell Simpson, Tramonda Moore, Brey Walker

OU has had outstanding offensive line play seemingly every year thanks to the wisdom of offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and this season will have the same. Three All-Big 12 offensive lineman return in Guards Ben Powers and Dru Samia and tackle Bobby Evans. The Sooners also have Cody Ford, 4-star G Tyrese Robinson, 4-star G Marquis Hayes, 4-star OT Adrian Ealy, 4-star C Creed Humphrey, 4-star OT Darrell Simpson, 4-star JUCO OT Tramonda Moore, and 4-star OT Brey Walker all competing for playing time. Bobby Evans has been penciled in at LT, but Moore, Ealy, Simpson, and Walker all have the talent to knock him off there. This team has an absolutely loaded offensive line unit that should help keep Murray upright and help OU dominate the hapless Big 12 defenses yet again.

All in all, this OU offense returns the most talent out of everybody in the country. The myth that OU’s offense won’t be talented next year is inherently busted. This crop of talent will help Kyler Murray’s rise as a top playmaker and will make things much easier for him this upcoming season.

The biggest factor for Kyler Murray is having offensive mastermind Lincoln Riley calling the shots. Riley is the most innovative coach in college football, and dare I say football in general. It is very easy to see Riley capitalizing on Murray’s playmaking ability and the talent around him to make another extremely explosive offense in college football next year.

His Opposition:

Kyler Murray has the advantage of playing in the Big 12 as a quarterback. The Big 12 defenses have seemingly gotten worse over time, especially against the pass and that trend doesn’t look like it will change this year. See here:

Of all of these teams, Kyler Murray will only play four teams who ranked in the Top 50 in total defense last year and only two ranked in the Top 50 against the pass. The real lack of exemplary secondary play on this schedule only helps boost Kyler Murray’s chances of having a big year.

Projected stats:

I’m projecting Kyler Murray to have a huge season statistically. Murray’s natural playmaking ability combined with the offensive stars around him and his schedule means he can cash in big time this season for the Sooners. These kind of stats are Lamar Jackson-like but I combined in Murray’s natural accuracy and the running back core to up his completion percentage but lower his rushing yards. I actually feel like I low-balled on some of these stats to try and stay realistic, even though I fully believe Murray can shatter records. While I think Riley will call plays to take advantage of his athleticism, Kyler Murray will not have to carry this OU team to the same extend Lamar Jackson did due to the outstanding group of runners behind him.

Kyler Murray is poised to have an explosive year offensively for the Sooners and potentially your fantasy squad. He has the talent to be a potentially Devy Watch player, but I don’t know how much an NFL team would want him based on his frame. I will say this: he has all the talent to be a high-end starting quarterback in the NFL. Translate that to college, and you have a star.

aschulte

Amateur scout for the NFL http://Draft.Here to talk sports and have fun. Keep learning! Writer and editor for @DFF_Dynasty and @DFF_College. You can follow me on Twitter @AJDraftScout.

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