Athletics

Kyler Murray hints he's looking at NFL, despite being A's first-round pick

Kyler Murray hints he's looking at NFL, despite being A's first-round pick

January 14 is becoming an extremely important date for the Oakland A's. It holds no significance on the MLB calendar, but it's a big day for the NFL.

And a big day for the A's 2018 first-round draft pick.

The A's signed Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray to a $4.66 million signing bonus last summer by making the outfielder version of him the No. 9 overall pick in the MLB draft. Murray, now the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, could be a first-round pick for his talents on the gridiron, too.

So, why is Jan. 14, 2019, so important? Underclassmen must declare by that date if they will enter the NFL draft or stay in college. And despite signing with the A's and recently saying this will be his last year playing football, Murray might be having second thoughts.

Murray recently was asked by Tim Tebow, who's now in the Mets' minor league system after being a Heisman winner and an NFL first-round pick, how he will go about choosing baseball or football.

"I think that's something me and my family will talk about at the end of the season and weigh out the options of what the NFL thinks of me," Murray said Saturday. "Right now my future is already kind of planned out, but we'll see what happens."

That doesn't sound too definitive one way or the other. As a competitor who has been a two-sport star his whole life, Murray wants to at least hear what the NFL thinks of him, and that's understandable. He already might be hearing good things, as ESPN's top draft analysts have high regards for him as a football prospect.

"If he were three inches taller, he'd be the No. 1 pick overall, hands down," Mel Kiper Jr. said Wednesday. "I think the height issue is the reason why instead of a first-round pick, he'd maybe a second-round pick if the NFL was a possibility."

Murray is listed at 5-foot-10, but that easily could be a favor from his school. The NFL is changing, though, and with the likes of Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and 2018 No. 1 draft pick Baker Mayfield, height is becoming less of a concern for quarterbacks.

"I disagree, Mel," Todd McShay responded. "I think Kyler Murray would be a first-round pick. I think the league is changing. I think it's more about quick twitch and guys that can move, and he does that about as well as anyone in the country. And I think he's gonna win the Heisman because of it.

"He's made a decision to go play baseball, and it's probably a smart decision for the long term of his career, I would love to see him give it a shot in the NFL because I think he's got a shot to be a really good starting quarterback at the next level."

In his first season as the Sooners' starting quarterback, Murray has been nearly just as good as Mayfield through the air and adds another dimension on the ground with his elusiveness. Through 13 games, he has 4,053 passing yards while completing 70.9 percent of his attempts, and he has added another 892 rushing yards.

With his right arm and both legs, Murray has totaled 51 touchdowns to seven interceptions. If he torches Alabama's defense in the College Football Playoff, he could solidify himself as a first-round pick, win or lose. 

It was three weeks ago that Murray recreated Bo Jackson's iconic photo in shoulder pads with a baseball bat hanging over his shoulders. And it's looking more like he wants to be Bo 2.0 at the next level. 

MLB teams are issued an equivalent pick in the next draft if they fail to sign a player drafted in the first two rounds. This is different, though. The A's signed Murray, but he might just be too good at football to pass up years on a bus in the minor leagues.

Buy your 2019 calendar now, Billy Beane, and put a big question mark on Jan. 14. Save some room for a happy face or frowny face. That will come later.

A's Stephen Piscotty to honor father Mike for 'Coaching Corps' Awards

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A's Stephen Piscotty to honor father Mike for 'Coaching Corps' Awards

Stephen Piscotty spends his days roaming the outfield for the A's. But long before he sported the green and gold, he was a little leaguer being coached by his dad, Mike. 

"He had a little bit of that military-style -- very serious, regimented coaching style which was great for us kids growing up, Stephen said about Mike to NBC Sports California. "There was a time to have fun, but there was a time to be serious. He had a good way of teaching young kids how to play."

Stephen will honor his dad Thursday night during the sixth annual "Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards" presented by Levi's, where top Bay Area athletes honor influential coaches and mentors.

Stephen would play up a level throughout his playing career, beginning with little league. And the way he was coached by his dad is something he still uses to this day.

Mike, at times, would be the manager of three different teams for each of his sons -- that meant more than just switching hats and jerseys. 

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Home sweet home! Go A’s!

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His kids (all 15 of them if you counted his sons and the kids on the team) would come over, eat pizza and watch "The Sandlot" -- all the essentials you need for a successful little league season.

"Baseball gave me a platform to teach character -- just like you're teaching character to your children," Mike told NBC Sports California. "Things are going to go great and there's going to be controversy at times."

"Baseball gave me the opportunity to parent, just like you would coaching," Mike said.

Having his dad as a coach was all Stephen knew. So much so, when Mike wasn't around, it was "weird."

The weirdness, if you will, became apparent when Stephen went to college.

"That's where things really changed because he's not there every day and I'm around college coaches that know a fair amount," Stephen said. "I want to be very open to coaching and trying those things, but he's not there to go through it with me."

But dad was watching from afar. 

"That parenting approach I would take with my boys was pretty much the same with coaching," Mike said. "It was easy for me to do that because it was just an extension of my home to the field."

"Part of it is a success as an individual. Developing your skills, being able to have a great game, making a great play, having a fantastic hit or something and being able to enjoy that."

Mike believed that isn't something you can learn on your own, he believes it's something he helped Stephen with.

"[Stephen] reveled in it."

Turning his coaching hat into being simply being a dad and a supporter doesn't change the way Mike views the game. He still notices things. That's what happens when you've coached for as long as he has. 

Mike then detailed the moment he got the call that Stephen would officially be a Major League baseball player. 

"The emotions are just incredible," Mike said. "Very fulfilling and really a lot of fun. You can really enjoy it, I've learned."

As Mike watches Stephen on the big league diamond, he is overcome with memories of the days where they would use a wiffle ball bat in the backyard. 

"All those days we would spend at the field -- it's very satisfying," Mike said. "But life keeps going on. It's a great moment, but now that set up more great moments."

"Life's a journey. You don't ever stop coaching. You're always mentoring, you're always coaching. Baseball gave me the opportunity to parent, just like you would coaching."

[RELATED: Three A's prospects make Baseball America's top 100 list]

And no matter where he goes, Stephen knows his dad was there from the very beginning.

"He was my first coach, and he got me off to a tremendous start and developed the passion and love I have for the game," Stephen explained. "That's why I'm choosing to honor him."

You can donate to the "Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards," here

“Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards” presented by Levi’s airs Tuesday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area

Three A's prospects named to Baseball America's top 100 for 2020 season

Three A's prospects named to Baseball America's top 100 for 2020 season

The A's have one of MLB's best young cores in third baseman Matt Chapman, shortstop Marcus Semien and first baseman Matt Olson. Add in pitchers Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas and it's clear why this team keeps knocking on the door as a contender. 

The future for Oakland already is here, too. That sentiment was reinforced Wednesday when Baseball America released its latest list of their top 100 prospects before the 2020 season. 

Pitchers Jesus Luzardo (nine) and A.J. Puk (21), and catcher Sean Murphy (41) all made the list. They also all made their major league debuts last season. 

Luzardo is Baseball America's No. 2 left-handed pitching prospect behind only MacKenzie Gore (six) of the San Diego Padres. Puk is the website's fourth-best lefty, three spots higher than MLB Pipeline ranked him. 

Murphy comes in as the third-highest ranked catcher, behind Giants prospect Joey Bart. As someone whose defense stands out, he will be a key factor in Luzardo and Puk's development on a big league mound. 

Luzardo, 22, might wind up being the A's ace as soon as this upcoming season. Puk, who will turn 25 in April, isn't too far behind. Both pitchers are hard-throwing southpaws who have dirty offspeed pitches. 

[RELATED: Former Cal pitcher rises up A's top 10 prospect rankings]

Murphy, who hit four homers in just 20 games for the A's last year, likely will be Oakland's Opening Day catcher this year. He has Gold Glove potential behind the plate and is continuing to improve as a hitter. 

The A's already have their Big Three on offense in Chapman, Olson and Semien. The next trio already has arrived, and they're here to stay.