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 takeaways: What you might have missed in walk-off win over Astros

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A's takeaways: What you might have missed in walk-off win over Astros

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It’s a series the A’s and their fans have been looking forward to since November, and the first game lived up to the hype.

The A's hosted the Houston Astros on Friday for the first time since a sign-stealing scandal was revealed, and Oakland won 3-2 on a walk-off single Marcus Semien in the 13th inning.

Austin Allen’s single to left field tied the game ahead of Semien’s game-winning hit. 

Despite no fans being in attendance, the A’s faithful made their presence known. 

An A's fan created a GoFundMe account to have a plane flyover the Coliseum with a "Houston Asterisk" sign being towed behind it to troll the Astros.

Astros starter Zack Greinke made himself comfortable in the stands among the cardboard cutouts in between innings, something you’re only allowed to get away with in 2020.

Here’s what you might have missed on Friday night: 

Typical Laureano

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Laureano hit a ball to center fielder Myles Straw, who fell onto his back which caused the ball to roll all the way to the wall. Laureano ended up with a triple, but would stay there as Matt Olson and Matt Chapman struck out, and Mark Canha flew out.

Laureano has been on a roll all season long. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Bassitt’s back

Facing Jose Altuve in the fifth inning, Bassitt unleashed his long, slow curve ball on the fifth pitch of the at-bat to get the Astros second baseman to fly out to right field.

It’s a pitch manager Bob Melvin has discussed before and it’s perfect to throw to keep batters off balance, which is exactly what Altuve did landing on his knee after he swung at it. That pitch averaged around 71.4 mph on the night. The velocity, of course, doesn’t matter, but it made its presence known.

Bassitt went seven innings and allowed three hits, one earned run while walking three and striking out three.

[RELATED: Don't expect A's to retaliate against Astros]

Grossman’s adjustment pays off

Robbie Grossman hit a solo shot, his first homer of the season. in the bottom of the seventh inning. He had been working on an adjustment since spring training and while he wasn’t specific as to what it was, it’s been working.

It was a game-changing home run, so whatever it was, it’s paying off. 

Still, once again, the A’s continue to depend on the home runs. This ended up being the reason why the game went into extras.

A's fan created GoFundMe to troll Astros with 'Asterisks' aerial banner

A's fan created GoFundMe to troll Astros with 'Asterisks' aerial banner

Is it a bird? A plane? Well, yes it’s a plane, but it’s a plane that’s towing a message behind it. What does it say? That’s right, “Houston Asterisks.”

The message was being flown above the Oakland Coliseum prior to the A’s three-game series against the Houston Astros that began Friday night:

It had originated with the idea from Jon Wilson of Brentwood, Calif. who is active on A’s Reddit and admitted he was getting worked up with how the Astros would not hear the booing from fans since patrons are not allowed to be in ballparks this season.

“As it got closer and closer to them coming here, I wanted to do something,” Wilson told NBC Sports California on Friday. “I put a post up saying ‘Hey everybody, is there anything we can do to protest?’”

The protest stems from Mike Fiers unearthing the Astros’ cheating ways when it was revealed they would steal signs electronically during their 2017 World Series run. 

Wilson figured perhaps he and fans simply could show up to the stadium and yell. But one person suggested maybe a banner being towed by a plane. After thinking about it for a bit, Wilson decided to turn this idea into a reality. He started a GoFundMe to make this happen.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

“I just promoted it on Reddit and Twitter and within 24 hours we had the $1200 and we’re at $1700 now,” Wilson said.

Wilson said if they doubled that original $1200, he told followers he would do another flyover for a game. And if not, he would donate the extra money to the A’s community fund.

The viral Twitter account, 2020 Houston Astros Shame Tour, that has been trolling the Astros since the cheating scandal surfaced, reached out to Wilson and asked if he could get more behind-the-scenes footage of the actual progress of the setup. The company that was behind the aerial banners let him film everything.

“Apparently it’s gotten a lot of publicity,” Wilson said. “I just really hope this motivates other teams’ towns to do something of their own, just don’t let this go quietly by. The fans need to feel that they have some part of giving feedback to the Astros since they can’t boo them in person.”

But Wilson, who will be sitting out the Coliseum on Friday, has more in store for the Astros.

“Oh, I have a megaphone and when the Astros players come up to bat, I’m going to boo them through the megaphone,” he said. “They probably won’t hear me, but this is more symbolic than anything.”

[RELATED: A's-Astros animosity exists, don't expect retaliation]

Wilson will be following on his phone to see who’s up at bat and when to boo that player, but made sure to note he would only boo players that were on the 2017 team.

“Specifically the ones like [Alex] Bregman, [George] Springer … ” Wilson said. “They probably won’t hear me, but I’m not going to do it the whole game, not going to stand on this bridge by myself the whole game, but I’ll do it like the first inning or two, just giving my little effort to it.”