Oklahoma football: Kyler Murray has the tools to fill Baker Mayfield’s shoes

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 02: Quarterback Kyler Murray (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 02: Quarterback Kyler Murray (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) /

Oakland Athletics first-round pick Kyler Murray will take over for the great Baker Mayfield as quarterback of the Oklahoma Sooners in 2018.

Replacing a legend the likes of Baker Mayfield in Norman is no easy task. The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner created quite the legacy for himself during his tenure under center for the Oklahoma Sooners. The man taking over him is one that will make his future on the diamond and not on the gridiron. Enter the Kyler Murray era.

Murray is entering his third year with the program and was Mayfield’s backup. After transferring from Texas A&M, where he was a highly touted recruit, Murray not only was known for his quarterback skills but also for his ability as an outfielder for the baseball program.

In the 2018 MLB Entry Draft, the Oakland Athletics selected Murray eighth overall in the first round. With a big signing bonus in hand, Murray made the decision to play out his junior season with the Sooners before turning pro with the Athletics.

The junior quarterback will have a difficult time replacing Mayfield, but he’s talented enough to do plenty of things that the outgoing Heisman winner was able to do. Murray has the mobility and arm strength to make all the throws while on the run.

Glimpses of what he can do were on display while he was a member of the Aggies, including limited action as a backup for the Sooners in 2017. He has a feel for the offense and it won’t be a complete change going from one era to the next.

The story of the diamond taking over the gridiron certainly isn’t anything new to college football. Deion Sanders, Bo Jackson, Todd Helton, Kirk Gibson and many others are examples of those that have played both.

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While Murray is a little bit different than Sanders and Jackson in the sense that he’s headed for the MLB and not the NFL, it’s not uncommon for these two sports to intertwine. They just happen to be intertwining while the Sooners look to stay on top of the Big-12 Conference in 2018.

Under Mayfield, the Sooners held a stranglehold on the conference and managed to go to the College Football Playoff twice. While the Sooners would fail to make the National Championship Game in both contests, Mayfield’s performance against Georgia won’t be forgotten either.

He proved to be the ultimate competitor and perhaps the most memorable moment came from planting a flag in Ohio State’s field. That’s the competitive spirit that Murray has gotten to sit back and watch during his time with the program and he knows how to prepare on a weekly basis from watching one of the best to ever suit up at the position.

The Sooners have a pretty favorable schedule and a big opportunity to run through the conference if they can catch fire under Murray right away. Their biggest test will come in back-to-back games against Texas and TCU, while the rivalry game against Oklahoma State falls at home.

Still the rapport that Mayfield had with his receivers is something that Murray will continue to develop just as he has been working on throughout the offseason. It’s been a busy time for him as he prepares to lead a major program in the nation while looking ahead to his future in Major League Baseball.

Having the spotlight thrust upon him by virtue of his baseball career and the fact he’s taking over for a Heisman winner is a daunting task. Fortunately for Murray, he isn’t a freshman coming into the fold and has had plenty of reps to prepare himself for this moment. If Murray and the Sooners can take the Big-12 Conference this season and pick up where Mayfield left off, then his decision to play his junior season will have been a home run.