Was informing the Oakland Athletics he wouldn’t be playing Major League Baseball difficult for Kyler Murray?
In short, yes.
“Yeah, just because they invested so much in me,” Murray said during his first public interview since recently announcing his intention to play professional football. He spent roughly 20 minutes with The Ticket’s Corby Davidson and Mike Rhyner ahead of the Davey O’Brien Award presentation on Monday.
The A’s drafted Murray No. 9 overall last June, but after passing for 4,361 yards, running for 1,001 and accruing 54 total touchdowns last fall, he's become a projected NFL first-round pick — perhaps as high as No. 1.
“Obviously [the A’s] were the best throughout this whole process letting me do my own thing, watching me play football from afar. That led me to believe how much I meant to them,” Murray said. “Those are relationships I’ll have forever. At the end of the day, they drafted me and in my heart i’ll always be an A because they took the time to do that.
"Obviously it’s a dream come true to be drafted No. 9 in the first round to them. It was kind of tough. It’s not like breaking up with a girlfriend but it was hard to have that conversation, for sure.”
Murray must now convince a franchise he can be a difference-maker despite standing just 5 foot 10. Size was rarely a hinderance to him at OU, but he continued playing baseball as a safety net in case there was no future in football for him.
He described his two-sport experience during the past year as “all thought out.”
“I always wanted to put myself in the position to do what I wanted as far as being a professional athlete. Obviously God has his hands on me and I have no control over anything,” he said. “Getting drafted in the summer [in baseball], going into this football season and wanting to ball out and put myself in the best position possible, putting myself where I am now. These guys are talking about a 5-10 kid who could possibly go No. 1 — it hasn’t happened ever. It’s definitely surreal but it took a lot of hard work, for sure.”
Murray was candid and engaging as he dished on a number of topics, such as all the sports he has played. He never tried hockey — his dad Kevin wouldn't let him skate — but wishes he'd have picked up soccer.
"I'd probably be in Europe right now," he said. "I love watching it."
He also said he is a better dancer than former OU quarterback Baker Mayfield, and described the full-court press OU coach Lincoln Riley put on when recruiting Murray a second time, after he decided to transfer from Texas A&M in 2015.
"He kept DM'ing me, texting me, anything, just asking 'Have you signed the paperwork yet? Have you sent it in yet?' He basically forced me to go to OU," Murray joked.