Kyler Murray, the A's top selection in the 2018 MLB Draft who helped Oklahoma reach this season's College Football Playoff, was named The Associated Press college football Player of the Year on Thursday.Murray won the award over Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa -- his upcoming opponent in the College Football Playoff
Kyler Murray, the A's top selection in the 2018 MLB Draft who helped Oklahoma reach this season's College Football Playoff, was named The Associated Press college football Player of the Year on Thursday.
Murray won the award over Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa -- his upcoming opponent in the College Football Playoff -- and Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr., receiving 39 first-place votes out of the 56 ballots.
"It's humbling and an honor to be named AP Player of the Year, to be mentioned in the same realm as a lot of great players, a lot of Hall of Famers," Murray said, per the AP report. "It's a special deal for me and hopefully I can continue to make my family and teammates proud."
It's the latest accolade for the two-sport star, who was just named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy on Monday (as were Tagovailoa and Haskins). The Heisman, awarded to college football's top player, will be handed out Saturday in New York. Murray could give Oklahoma the first back-to-back Heisman-winning quarterbacks in the history of the award after Baker Mayfield captured the honor last season.
Despite his success on the gridiron, Murray reiterated his plans earlier this week to leave football behind and begin his professional baseball career. After the A's made him the No. 9 overall pick in June, they agreed to a $4.66 million signing bonus with the outfielder, a deal that included Oakland allowing Murray to return to play one more year of football at Oklahoma. Murray is the A's fourth overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline.
Murray's agent, Scott Boras, said the same on Thursday, telling the San Francisco Chronicle, "Kyler has every intention of fulfilling his agreement with the A's, and he's grateful he has had the chance to pursue his college goals. He will be in Spring Training with the A's."
In Saturday's Big 12 Championship, Murray led the Sooners to a 39-27 victory over Texas, throwing for 379 yards and three touchdowns on 25-for-34 passing as Oklahoma (12-1) overcame an early deficit. Murray also rushed for 39 yards on 10 carries.
With Georgia losing to Alabama in the SEC championship game Saturday, Oklahoma ended up claiming the final spot in the College Football Playoff. The Sooners will face Alabama in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 29.
Murray, a redshirt junior, has thrown for 4,053 yards and 40 touchdowns and rushed for another 892 yards and 11 scores through 13 games this season. After serving as the backup to Mayfield -- now playing for the Cleveland Browns after they made him the first overall pick in this year's NFL Draft -- in 2017, Murray has emerged as the favorite for this year's Heisman.
A five-star football recruit out of Allen (Texas) High School, Murray likely would have been a first-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, but he instead opted to play both football and baseball at Texas A&M, where his father, former Brewers Minor Leaguer Kevin Murray, also played quarterback.
Murray transferred to Oklahoma after his freshman year, sat out the 2016 season and backed up Mayfield in '17.
The center fielder enjoyed a promising Cape Cod League stint last summer. He hit .296 with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs in 51 games in his final collegiate season with the Sooners in the spring.
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.