Kyler Murray’s baseball injury portends a bigger concern

Kyler Murray is a two-sport collegiate student athlete, and he has exceptional skills and talent in both of the sports in which he participates.

The problem is, one of the sports, baseball, is probably his best chance for a professional future. but football, Murray’s other sport, is king at Oklahoma, and he is in line to become the Sooners’ next starting quarterback and the field general of one of college football’s elite programs.

The fact that Murray is a key contributor on the Oklahoma baseball team, but came to OU, as a Texas A&M transfer, first and foremost to play football and follow Baker Mayfield at the quarterback position, has created mixed emotions among Sooner fans.

No one denies Murray the opportunity to compete in both of the sports he obviously loves. By the same token, it is very difficult to be able to give your full attention and perform at your best in both sports.

For example, having to split time in the spring between the baseball season and offseason football practice sessions speaks for itself in terms of the physical and mental wear and tear on the student athlete. The situation is the same in the fall, when football is in season, yet baseball still has offseason drills.

And it goes without saying that the risk for injury exists in, and potentially impacts, both sports

Murray delivered a run-scoring single in the first inning of Thursday’s 3-1 win over Texas, but he had to leave the game just after that, injuring his leg while attempting to steal second base.

Hopefully the injury is not serious and will not keep him out of postseason baseball action for more than a game or two and won’t have any lingering affects for football in the fall. I’m sure, though, that there were some hearts in the throats of some Sooner football fans when they heard the news of Murray’s baseball injury.

It might amount to nothing this time, but what if Murray had suffered a broken leg or arm playing baseball? Sure, those are not typically career-ending injuries, but they certainly would delay and impact your conditioning and preparation for football in the fall.

In another week, Murray is likely to be drafted by a Major League Baseball team in either the first or second round. The lure and potential of a professional baseball career could lead him to sign with an MLB team. In terms of NCAA rules, playing professional baseball would not affect Murray’s eligibility to play collegiate football, but in practical terms, again. you have to be concerned about the ability to give your all to both endeavors, and be able to perform at a high level.

Before we get too carried away casting Murray as the heir apparent and savior for OU football next season at quarterback, we need to point out that Sooner head coach Lincoln Riley has not designated a starter at the position for next season.

The second-year OU head coach indicated following the spring game that there is still a competition for the position and that the two prime combatants for the starting role, Murray and sophomore Austin Kendall, are in a very close competition.

“There hasn’t been any separation between them,” Riley told reporters, including Tyler Palmateer of the Norman Transcript, during spring practice.

“There’s been some days where Kyler has been better. There’s been some days when Austin has been better. Pretty close right now.”

Murray possesses exceptional speed and agility and has a big arm to got with it, two dimensions that make him extremely dangerous at the quarterback position. In his one and only start for the Sooners last season, he led them to a touchdown on their opening possession against West Virginia, wielding both tools in his arsenal.

The assumption we are going with at this date is that Murray will be the starter when the Sooners open the 2018 season against head coach Lane Kiffen’s upstart Florida Atlantic squad.

There is no mistaking that football is king at Oklahoma. The Sooners have been highly successful in football in the new century. Quarterback is arguably this most important position and the engine that has driven the Sooners’ sustained success since the 2000 season.

Regardless of the direction Murray’s baseball career takes, beginning with the MLB Draft on June 4, if he has designs on the OU starting quarterback job, and his head coach sees fit to place him in that roll come the fall, the hope here is that the Sooner two-sport star isn’t spreading himself and his career too thin.