America, Meet Kyler Murray

As a Bay Area native, I'm always tuned in to the comings and goings of the major pro franchises in the area, and I was front row and center for the fan onslaught that took place after the Oakland A's selected Oklahoma outfielder/quarterback Kyler Murray in this June's draft.

The backlash that followed the pick centered mainly around the fact that Murray, chosen 9th overall, was likely going to be a major part of the Sooners 2018 football season; the favorite to assume the starting quarterback role following the departure of Heisman winner Baker Mayfield. It made waves around a league where the draft isn't nearly the circus one sees in the NFL or NBA, with many claiming the A's were taking a huge risk using such an important pick on a player who's heart may not be entirely on the diamond.

Would he even sign with Oakland? If he did, would that disqualify him from playing football for OU? Turns out Murray can in fact have his cake and eat it, too, signing with the A's for a whopping $4.66 million-dollar bonus and returning to OU as America's wealthiest amateur football player.

Certainly Murray isn't the first major dual-sport athlete in history, but should he follow through as promised with hanging up his football helmet following the Oklahoma season to play pro baseball full-time, he would be the first athlete in recent memory to actually choose the diamond over the gridiron.

Much was made about Tim Tebow's foray into professional baseball, but that only occurred following his flameout from the NFL. Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson actually played minor league baseball while still the quarterback at both NC State and Wisconsin, but when the NFL draft came along, Wilson left baseball (mostly) behind.

Current Houston Texans backup quarterback Brandon Weeden pulled an inverted Tebow after being drafted by the New York Yankees out of high school and playing five seasons of pro baseball before starting over as a football player at Oklahoma State in his mid-20s. And of course most famously, you have Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders, who concurrently played at the highest level in both sports. However, while the line became somewhat blurry with Jackson, does one really think baseball first when it comes to those two legends?

For now, though, it will be all eyes on Murray as the Sooners quarterback, as he looks to not only fill the void left behind by a superstar in Mayfield, but lead one of college football's most storied franchises to their first national title in nearly 20 years.

That's right, in spite of sixteen 10-win seasons and 19 consecutive bowl appearances in the 21st century, the Sooners have not captured college football's crown since Bob Stoops led the team to a 13-0 record in 2000, his second year at the helm. They have won at least 11 games in each of the past three seasons, and have appeared in two of the four CFPs to date, including a loss to Georgia in last year's thrilling Rose Bowl game.

This season Murray and the Sooners must contend with several familiar faces at the top of the AP rankings, with 2018 CFP qualifiers Alabama, Georgia, and Clemson all currently ranked in the top four ahead of OU, along with perennial contender Ohio State.

It's tough to tell who's really who through the first three weeks of the season, with national powers typically annihilating lower-tier schools who gladly accept seven-figure checks in exchange for 40-point losses. That being said, Oklahoma has done all they can thus far, going 3-0 and outscoring their opponents 149-62. After a warm up in week one against Florida Atlantic, Murray threw for over 650 yards with 6 touchdown passes and 1 interception against UCLA and Big 12 rival Iowa State.

He was particularly stellar this week in Ames, going 21-29 through the air for 348 yards and 3 touchdowns, tossing in 77 yards on the ground in a hostile environment against a team that won eight games last season. Through the first three games of this season, Murray trails Mayfield's 2017 pace across the board, but adds an element of speed the current Cleveland Browns quarterback could not match. Murray already has 169 rushing yards in 2018, putting him more than half way to Mayfield's total for all of last season.

It's premature to say if Murray will enter into the Heisman discussion this year, but following what should be a cakewalk victory against Army in week 4, OU will enter the teeth of their Big 12 schedule with a run through the state of Texas against Baylor, UT, and TCU. Baylor should pose a nominal threat at best, but the Longhorns will roll into a home showdown against the Horned Frogs this week following a decisive victory against USC, and the Lone Star rivals could pose the greatest threat to the Sooners as they look to capture the Big 12 title for the second straight year.

Look for Murray's star to grow throughout the 2018 season, as the millionaire junior looks to leave it all on the gridiron for one final season.

Or so we've been told.

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