Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray has climbed to the top of college football, replacing one Heisman Trophy winner in Norman to earn the award himself Saturday night at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York.
If anyone thought the No. 4 Sooners' offense couldn’t get any flashier with the departure of Baker Mayfield, the 2017 winner and top NFL draft pick, Murray proved them wrong by throwing for 4,053 yards and 40 touchdowns, and adding 892 yards and 11 more scores on the ground. Oklahoma leads the nation in total yardage and points per game, tallying nearly 50 points each outing.
“He did his thing,” Murray said of Mayfield at the award ceremony, “and for me, that’s the standard at Oklahoma.”
That explosive offense led the Sooners to a fourth straight Big 12 Conference title and their second College Football Playoff berth in as many seasons. In the conference championship game last Saturday, a 39-27 win over No. 15 Texas, Murray threw for 379 yards and three touchdowns.
Oklahoma will face Heisman runner-up and Tua Tagovailoa and No. 1 Alabama on Dec. 29 in the Orange Bowl, one of the playoff’s national semifinals. Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins came in third place for the award. For the first time in the Heisman Trophy’s 84-year history, all three finalists were quarterbacks of color.
Murray, a junior, is the Sooners' seventh Heisman Trophy winner, tying the school with Notre Dame and Ohio State for the most by a program all-time. Oklahoma is the first team to win consecutive Heisman Trophies with different players since Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis of Army in 1945 and 1946.
Southern California’s Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush won the award consecutively in 2004 and 2005, but Bush’s honor was later forfeited.
Murray originally enrolled at Texas A&M in 2015 after sparkling baseball and football careers for Allen High School in Northeast Texas. His father, Kevin Murray, was a quarterback at Texas A&M from 1983 to 1986. His uncle and godfather, Calvin Murray, played Major League Baseball for the San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs.
Kyler Murray played both sports for the Aggies, but jumped to Oklahoma after a quarterback controversy with Kyle Allen, who also transferred from the school. He sat out the 2016 season due to transfer rules then backed up Mayfield in 2017 while starting in center field for the Sooners baseball team.
The Oakland Athletics drafted him ninth overall in the 2018 Major League Baseball first-year player draft and Murray has declared he plans to forgo an NFL career to pursue baseball. But he said earlier this week he’d “like to do both [baseball and football] if possible.”
“This is crazy,” Murray said repeatedly during a brief and soft-spoken acceptance speech.
He thanked teammates on either side of the ball for putting him in a position to win so many postseason honors.
“You make me look so much better than I am,” he said.
He was already named the Big 12 offensive player of the year and Associated Press player of the year. He also won the Davey O’Brien Award, given to the nation’s best quarterback.
Murray called his father, “a legend to me,” and added, “You taught me everything that I know about this game. I honestly feel like you should be up here with me.” He called his mother, “my best friend.”
He teared up while thanking Sooners Coach Lincoln Riley, who in his two years at the helm of Oklahoma has produced two Heisman-winning quarterbacks.
“You kept me going. You kept me focused,” Murray said, while Riley leaned forward in his chair in the audience with tears welling in his eyes. “You pushed me harder than any coach ever has, and I just want to thank you for believing in me and allowing me to be the quarterback of this team and the leader of this team.”
Murray finished with 2,167 points, tallied via 517 first-place votes, 278 second-place votes and 60 third-place votes. Tagovailoa received 1,871 points, the most by a runner-up in Heisman history, per ESPN Stats and Info. He also matched 2013 finalist AJ McCarron for the best finish by an Alabama quarterback. Haskins received 783 points, including 46 first-place votes.
Among the top-10 finishers were West Virginia quarterback Will Grier, Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew, Central Florida quarterback McKenzie Milton, Clemson halfback Travis Etienne, Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, Wisconsin halfback Jonathan Taylor and Memphis halfback Darrell Henderson.