clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Why the Texas Longhorns have a shot at landing 5-star QB Kyler Murray

New, 104 comments

The once unthinkable is now possible.

Kyler Murray
Kyler Murray
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the entirety of consensus five-star Allen quarterback Kyler Murray's recruitment, one fact has loomed larger than any other -- he's the son of one of the most successful Texas A&M Aggies quarterbacks in the school's history.

As Murray masterfully worked his way through a high school career that eventually resulted in three straight state titles and an undefeated record as a starter, the moments when it seemed like he would lead a college offense in a uniform other than the maroon and white of A&M were few, far between and brief-lived.

The depth chart at Oregon looked favorable at points in the spring before Murray officially did what everyone expected him to do in May when he finally pledged to Texas A&M.

There was the official visit to Oklahoma last fall and some buzz about the Sooners at the Under Armour All-America game.

Neither of those programs ever seemed like a massive threat, however. No other program seemed like a massive threat to the Aggies. He was a legacy, his friends were going there, and the Aggies had momentum as a football program.

The Texas Longhorns certainly weren't really in the picture -- look how casually Murray dismissed the Longhorns days before he committed to the Aggies:

Then the cracks started appearing once the fall began. The defense struggled and coordinator Mark Snyder was fired, a move that ultimately helped Texas close with another Metroplex star, Malik Jefferson, the guy Murray expected to play with in College Station.

Hours after Jeferson's decision, five-star defensive tackle Daylon Mack abandoned the class. Another of Murray's friends, four-star wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge, had already done so a few months before.

When Jefferson committed, another fissure either formed or just revealed itself -- Murray's father tweeted that "it's easy to win at the HS level w/o a Defense - that's where it ends." Though it was deleted quickly, the tweet was part of the foundation to the belief that the elder Murray doesn't trust Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin.

There have been persistent rumors about discord between the two, perhaps merely as a result of that tweet or perhaps because there is some deeper enmity between the elder Murray and the Texas A&M head coach.

When all the arrests of Texas A&M football players were happening in College Station last summer, the father of a five-star prospect told GigEm247's Taylor Hamm that he had concerns about Sumlin having a "firm enough hand" with his program, that he was worried about discipline issues on the team.

Having a five-star son qualifies Kevin Murray as a potential source to that statement. However, even without the major assumption required to attach that anonymous quote to Murray, it's not hard to imagine him feeling a similar way after everything that happened in College Station through the spring and summer and into the fall.

There was the need to hire an outside consulting firm to instill discipline in the spring, the arrests during the summer that sparked the quote above, and the overall mid-season meltdown that revealed all the major issues defensively that Murray seemingly referenced with his deleted tweet.

Some assumptions and extrapolations and rumors there, no doubt.

But let's look at it from another direction -- there's almost no way that Kyler Murray even has a chance to end up in a Texas uniform if Kevin Murray feels comfortable having his son at A&M under Sumlin. And there's a chance Kyler Murray ends up in a Texas uniform.

What's remarkable about this story is that there are some reasons why Kevin Murray could feel more comfortable sending his son to play under Texas head coach Charlie Strong than to Texas A&M to play for Sumlin.

Geoff Ketchum of Orangebloods noted on Thursday evening what has become a growing talking point in the Murray recruitment -- Strong was a graduate assistant for the 1985 Texas A&M team when Murray was the quarterback, providing a connection between the two.

According to TexAgs, Kevin Murray accompanied his son on the surprise Wednesday trip to Texas. It's not clear whether the two really kept up over the years, but it does provide a basis for that needed comfort level to develop between the two.

Strong's best selling points to parents are his sincerity with his efforts to turn their sons into men and his commitment to the five core values that coaches like Bret Beiliema may like to poke fun at, but resonate with mothers and fathers concerned about their children.

Wednesday was Strong's chance to resonate with Kevin Murray 30 years after they first met in College Station.

A truly open quarterback competition also provides some incentive for the younger Murray to flip his pledge to the Longhorns with Kyle Allen now looking like a potential multi-year starter for the Aggies. The depth chart was something that Murray watched closely during the fall, at least according to this report:

And the rumored adjustments to the Texas offense that include faster tempo, more spread formations, and an increased emphasis on the quarterback run game with the addition of wide receivers coach Jay Norvell has to be a selling point for the staff as well with Murray.

There's no way that Murray showed up on campus last weekend and the staff didn't emphasize a dedication to re-structuring the offense to fit Murray's talents. Whether the current offensive brain trust can accomplish that is another matter altogether, but in recruiting, perception is reality.

And the final factor favoring Texas may be the most significant -- guys like Jefferson and Lodge and Murray and Mack and a handful of others once talked about changing the future of the Texas A&M football program. With Jefferson in Austin and Lodge and Mack currently uncommitted, the only potential for the future that they once saw together in College Station is now in Austin.

Considering where things stood through the spring and the summer, that's an incredible achievement by Strong and his coaching staff. A truly incredible achievement.

The first dominoes to fall were Jefferson and his close friend DeAndre McNeal, who also looked like he was headed to Texas A&M with all the rest. But those two dominoes led into a crucial curve -- without catching the next huge domino, the momentum could simply stop, leaving the rest standing.

Murray is that domino.

DaMarkus Lodge. Daylon Mack. Soso Jamabo. Kris Boyd. Holton Hill. Greg Little.

Those are all dominoes that could follow Murray to finish out the 2015 class and start the 2016 class, in the case of Little, the nation's top prospect who blocked for Murray at Allen and wants to play with him in college.

There's no guarantee it all goes down like that even if Murray commits. But it's possible and that is quite frankly astonishing in and of itself.

So let's look at where things stand.

Murray was on campus at Texas on Wednesday with his father and met with Strong and the staff, as well as the baseball coaches. His uncle, Calvin Murray, also played baseball at Texas.

On Thursday night, Murray created some sensation when he showed up at an awards dinner in a orange tie. It was a Tennessee orange tie and it certainly went with his fantastic brown shoes, as he told the Dallas Morning News:

Besides commenting on the choice of attire that Murray had to know would draw attention just more than 24 hours after he was in Austin, the five-star quarterback said the trip was good and then laughed, adding later that he's "still committed to Texas A&M."

Note that he didn't say that he's going to sign with Texas A&M or that he's 100% committed to Texas A&M -- he just stated the bare minimum facts.

Right now, there are more questions than facts. Will Strong and his staff get an in-home visit this week? Will Sumlin and his staff be able to firm up Murray's commitment with a visit of their own? Is there any way to get him back on campus for an official visit? How much is he going to talk to other prospects like Mack and Jamabo about his decision?

Back to the facts though? Texas no longer has a quarterback committed to enroll as a member of the 2015 class with the flip of Zach Gentry to Michigan on Saturday evening, ratcheting up the pressure to land Murray.

Texas A&M may still be the favorite to land a signature from the nation's top dual-threat quarterback, especially with his close friend Christian Kirk already on campus there, but it's possible to foresee a scenario in which Murray flips and brings several other top prospects with him.

It's possible to make a case that his father likes Strong better than Sumlin, the Texas depth chart is favorable to make a quick move, and most of Murray's friends could unite in Austin with Malik Jefferson and DeAndre McNeal.

Even the potential of that happening will make the next 11 days until National Signing Day the most dramatic final stretch in the history of Texas recruiting.

let's ride