The clock is ticking toward a commitment for coveted quarterback prospect Kyler Murray. The 5-star passer will reportedly announce his decision May 28, capping off a recruitment that includes premier college programs across the country.
Murray, a two-time state champion at Allen High School in suburban Dallas, holds an expansive collection of scholarship offers that started to amass during his sophomore year. Though he hasn't officially eliminated a large portion of college options, a pair of programs are viewed as top contenders.
The decision may come down to Texas A&M or Oregon, the only two teams projected to land Murray among 53 expert predictions that currently factor into his 247Sports' Crystal Ball. Texas A&M, a team with strong family ties to the Murray family, is favored by 87 percent of prognosticators.
The Ducks and Aggies have each enjoyed immense offensive success in recent years, producing NFL-caliber talent at the quarterback position. Both programs present an opportunity to compete in the national spotlight for a potential title contender.
Murray, who remains unbeaten as a high school star, has produced gaudy numbers during the past two seasons. His success has come in bunches on the ground and through the air.
He threw for 5,673 total yards and 63 touchdowns during his sophomore and junior seasons. Murray was equally impressive as a rusher, shredding opponents en route to 2,644 yards and another 44 scores.
The 5'11", 170-pound playmaker, rated No. 1 nationally among dual-threat quarterbacks, is less than a week away from making the call on which college he's attending. We broke down his top two options in an effort to determine which program provides the best fit.
Let's start with the obvious here—Murray's father is one of the most successful quarterbacks in Aggies history. Kevin Murray left Texas A&M as the team's all-time wins leader at quarterback, though the record no longer belongs to him.
He was an All-American selection in the mid-1980s and, in 2012, joined the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame. Needless to say, there's a clear path to College Station if Kyler Murray elects to follow in his father's footsteps.
The familiarity is in place between Murray and head coach Kevin Sumlin's staff. He is a frequent visitor to Texas A&M and understands the culture in place on campus.
It's also the location where another dual-threat quarterback also deemed "undersized" enjoyed a remarkable run that resulted in a Heisman Trophy and first-round NFL draft status. You may know him as Johnny Football.
Texas A&M extended an offer to Murray last June, viewed as the prohibitive favorite ever since. However, it's important to note the Aggies' other major development at quarterback in June 2013.
Kyle Allen, an acclaimed talent from Arizona, committed to Texas A&M on June 3. Six months later, he arrived on campus as an early enrollee.
Rated the nation's No. 1 overall quarterback in the 2014 class, Allen lived up to the hype during spring camp and put himself in position to start as a true freshman. He'll compete against sophomore Kenny Hill, a 4-star recruit in 2013, for the job this summer.
The position battle could define Texas A&M's offensive attack for the next 3-4 years. If either Hill or Allen claim the gig and produce, they could lock down the starting role for years to come (Hill is eligible through 2016, barring injury, and Allen could remain starter through 2017 if he wins the job this year).
Murray must accept that a commitment to Texas A&M could result in a significant waiting period. Is he prepared to pace the sidelines during his first three seasons on campus if Allen emerges as "the guy"?
Sure, he could come in with a mindset to compete and swipe away the starting spot as an underclassman. However, if Allen develops into the player Texas &M expects him to be, it's difficult to imagine an "open completion" occurring anytime soon.
Murray could thrive down the line in College Station and there's no doubt his skill set transitions well into the scheme. But is he willing to wait and watch while another passer plays the starring role?
The Ducks continue to creep up as a strong possibility to steal Murray away from his home state. He visited Eugene last month and there's a lot to like about an offensive attack that averaged 45 points per game (fourth-best in nation) in 2013 despite losing play-calling guru Chip Kelly.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota surprised many by turning down an opportunity to declare for the 2014 NFL draft. He's remains on campus as a redshirt junior and top-tier Heisman Trophy candidate, but it's difficult to envision him stiff-arming the NFL again if things go well this season.
If Mariota bolts to play with the big boys in 2015, there are serious questions surrounding Oregon's depth at quarterback. That's exactly what makes the Ducks such a compelling option for Murray.
Earlier this month, redshirt sophomore Jake Rodrigues revealed he's seeking a transfer.
"Football wasn't working out here, and that is why I am leaving," he told Brianna Amaranthus of Comcast Sports Network Northwest.
Just days later, 247Sports reporter Justin Hopkins reported redshirt freshman quarterback Damion Hobbs is also departing the program (h/t OregonLive.com).
That removes two players from the equation for a squad expecting to search for a new starter in 2015.
Redshirt sophomore Jeff Lockie is the only experienced backup left. Freshman Morgan Mahalak, a 4-star 2014 signee from California, gives the Ducks much-needed depth, though the team surely hopes to use a redshirt on him this year.
The quarterback situation could enable Murray to become Oregon's version of Kyle Allen, a true freshman poised to compete for a starting role against players who lack substantial college experience.
Murray is thrilling in the open field, displaying skills that could give him the edge to take over in a backfield that thrives on misdirection. He'd have to fight early and often to earn a spot on the field in 2015, but assuming Mariota is gone there wouldn't be an established starter standing in his way.
Texas A&M presents a mix of proximity and family legacy that may be too enticing for Murray to pass up. You couldn't argue with his decision if the Aggies are indeed his choice.
Sumlin has built a program that is clearly on the rise and it's an opportunity to show what he's made of on the SEC stage. Still, when would that opportunity arise?
Murray is a fierce competitor who's never suffered a loss at the high school level. The Aggies feature two young, touted quarterbacks—including the country's top incoming freshman—and aren't in dire need for immediate help at the position.
Oregon is a different story. When looking ahead to a world without Mariota, the Ducks must ensure multiple legitimate options are on the roster and ready to take over.
Murray's most realistic path to potential early playing time resides in Eugene. If that's what matters most, he's heading to Oregon.
Texas A&M will surely tug at his heart, especially in the final hours leading up to an official decision, but the Ducks offer a wide-open quarterback situation that simply doesn't exist in College Station.
Recruit information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.
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