OU Football: Texas A&M won the recruiting battle, but Oklahoma won the war for Kyler Murray

October 2, 2018

NORMAN – Quarterback Kyler Murray drew late attention from Oklahoma and Texas during the final weeks of his 2015 recruitment out of high school.

He received a visit from Lincoln Riley, the new Sooners offensive coordinator. Murray also took a trip to Texas, which caused many Texas A&M fans’ hearts to skip a beat.

Texas A&M may have won the initial recruiting battle, but Oklahoma won the war. On Saturday, Murray’s college football journey takes him to the Cotton Bowl, where he will start his first OU-Texas game.

It’s already been a special fall for the junior quarterback. On Monday, he was named the Big 12 Conference’s offensive player of the week for the third time this season. He’s also been moved to No. 2 in the Heisman Trophy odds by Bovada, lurking behind Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Oklahoma received an early Christmas present in 2015.

After only one season at Texas A&M, Murray decided to leave College Station. Just one week after his departure announcement, OU sent out a Christmas Eve news release stating that he was transferring to play for the Sooners.

On Monday, Lincoln Riley spoke about recruiting Murray out of Allen High School and Texas A&M.

“Oklahoma had been recruiting him before I got hired here. I got hired, had a couple of good phone conversations. Ended up going down to Allen and met with him, had a really good meeting, hit it off,” Riley said. “But right before signing day, it was a little too much, too fast. Little too much ground to make up. So he went ahead and signed with A&M. Left it on good terms.

“After he and his family made the decision to transfer from A&M, they got their release, then one of his former coaches in high school called me to let me know he was going to leave and they had a release and asked me if we would be interested. I told him we would be. I talked to Kyler pretty quickly after that and his family. Got through the things we needed to get through. It happened in a matter of days.”

Murray’s trip to Austin drew plenty of attention. But he admitted the reason he listened to the Longhorns’ recruiting pitch late in the high school process was because of the brand.

“I’m from Texas. I grew up in Texas. I wasn’t too fond of Texas growing up, but I mean, you grow up in Texas, you’ve gotta take a visit to Texas,” Murray said. “That’s basically what it is. Nothing more, nothing less.”

When looking for a new landing spot after his freshman season, Murray pointed toward his relationship with Riley. It differed from the chemistry he had with former offensive coordinator Josh Heupel.

“Just the relationship with me and Coach Heupel, it wasn’t as good as now, like with Coach Riley,” Murray said. “When he came in, I think me and Coach Riley hit it off a little more. But that’s just part of it. That’s part of recruitment, part of the process. But yeah, I’m here now. I love it.

“Talking with Coach Riley, like I said, we kinda hit it off in high school and then getting an opportunity to get recruited by him again, I think everything worked out for what was supposed to happen,” Murray added about the December 2015 recruiting whirlwind.

Many assumed that Murray grew up a Texas A&M fan and naturally hated Texas since his father Kenneth Murray was an Aggies quarterback. That isn’t the case.

“I was a Florida fan growing up. I didn’t really look too much into beating Texas or anything like that,” Murray said. “I’m here now and we have Texas coming up on Saturday. It’s a great opportunity. I think many kids across the country would love to be part of this game and play this game. It’s here in front of us.

“I think the team is ready for it, ready for the challenge. We just have to have a good week of practice. It’s a good opportunity for us.”

Wait -- does that mean he was cheering for the Gators in the 2008 national championship game against Oklahoma?

“I was. Yeah,” he said with a smile.

The Heisman Trophy hype is growing. But he said he’s not letting it affect him too much, especially with an important game sitting in front of him.

“It’s hard not to hear. Obviously I hear it. I’ve dreamed of it my whole life, winning the Heisman. But at the same time, I’m not a complacent guy. For me, it’s just one week at a time, one day at a time,” Murray said. “That’s how I look at it. Keep playing the way I’m playing. Whatever it may be, we’ll see where we end up.

“For me, it’s just about winning games and doing what’s right for the team. Individual goals will come along if you do what you do. I’m not worried about it.”

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