Allen (Texas) quarterback Kyler Murray committed to the Texas A&M Aggies on Wednesday afternoon in an announcement at the field house of his high school in suburban Dallas, choosing the school at which his father played quarterback over the Oregon Ducks and a number of other schools.
The 5'11, 170-pounder has a rating of 98 from 247Sports, is considered the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the country by that service, and ranks as the top player in the state of Texas. The 247Sports Composite rankings have him slotted a little bit lower across the board.
At the time of his decision, he held 16 offers from schools like Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Cal, Clemson, Florida, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech.
The consensus five-star prospect has already been invited to the Elite 11 Finalist after his positional MVP performance at the Dallas Nike Football Training Camp in early April and had visited Oregon in April. Numerous transfers from the program in Eugene seemingly helped the Ducks surge with Murray folioing his trip, but it wasn't enough to upset the longtime favorites.
There had been some speculation in the days before Murray's announcement that having to sit behind prospective starter Kyle Allen could impact the Allen quarterback's decision, but the best prospects are rarely afraid of competition and Murray proved that once again by opting for a more crowded depth chart rather than taking the easier path at Oregon.
The decision was hardly a surprise given Murray's ties to the Aggies and his numerous trips to College Station -- despite the Ducks trending in the 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions late, the Aggies still remained the overwhelming favorite on the day of his decision.
At 5'11, it would be easy to discount Murray as a college quarterback simply because of his size. The recent success of Russell Wilson and Johnny Manziel has made it more difficult to do that and Murray also has excellent pedigree, as his father Kevin played quarterback for Texas A&M.
Quarterback coach George Whitfield had a chance to work with Murray at the Dallas Elite 11 camp and praised the Allen product.
"I don't know if he's undersized because his skill set is huge. He's such a hip-generated kid, he's electric," Whitfield said. "Everything he does is with purpose and ease. HIs football acumen is incredibly high. His athletic acumen is ridiculous. There's something to be said if you can get that type of athleticism under center -- you can see what Allen has been doing. He's perpetuating the continual change of the position."
Elite 11 coach and ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer has now worked with Murray during several Elite 11 camps and will see him again this summer, so he has a strong feel for Murray's ability as well and is a big fan of Murray's makeup as a quarterback.
"He's supremely confident," Dilfer told SB Nation Recruiting in early May. "Not only in his abilities, but in his training. He's been a part of big stuff. So much of this is how you handle big stuff. Adversity, success, big platforms, whatever it is. He was down 15 in the fourth quarter against DeSoto last fall and he hadn't played great, but from that point forward, he was flawless. The bigger the stage, the better he is."
Looking at Murray's pure production over the last two seasons at the highest level of Texas High School football and then watching his film makes it impossible to discount him as a college quarterback.
In 2013, Murray scored 65 total touchdowns and gained nearly 5,000 yards from scrimmage, including 3,669 passing yards and 46 touchdowns.
So while it might still be tempting to talk about Murray's running ability first because he looks like a high-level slot receiver prospect with his blend of short-area quickness and top-end speed, it's his passing ability that deserves first mention.
Much more like Russell Wilson than Johnny Manziel as a passer, Murray has the polished mechanics of a pocket passer like Drew Brees, using his entire body to uncork throws that consistently have the zip of a taller player with much better leverage on the football. As a result, there are few throws that he can't make.
The most impressive things about Murray in the pocket are his ability to feel pressure and move with ideal ball security -- both hands on the football -- while still keeping his eyes downfield and his ability to look off defenders and go through his progressions. There's not a lot of high school quarterback film that shows that clearly, but Murray's does.
And simply saying that Murray has good mechanics that maximize his arm strength would take away from his natural arm talent, which is good enough to create some serious pop out of his hand.
Murray can also throw effectively moving in both directions, a nice complement to his running ability, as defenders can't commit to either the run or the pass quickly when he vacates the pocket. On one play, he even showed off a Manziel-like spin move to get out of the pocket moving left and was able to deliver an on-target pass.
Of course, then there's also the running ability. In the last two seasons, Murray has run for 44 touchdowns and gained over 2,600 yards on the ground. He has a running back's ability to fit through small holes along the offensive line, change-of-direction ability, lateral quickness, and impressive burst with his first several steps. If he didn't have so much obvious talent as a quarterback, it would be easy to project him as an instant-impact slot receiver.
There is still some room for growth though, as Murray can sometimes overthrow passes. Whitfield said that lower body issues result in balls sailing over the heads of intended receivers, including over striding or the back foot comes up like a pitcher or just a mindset that they have to gas everything.
For Dilfer, the focus during the Elite 11 finals will be on his drop.
"We're going to slow everything down going backwards," Dilfer said. "He's so fast going back that he ends up waiting so long that it kind of messes up the timing. When we expose him to a more pro-style timing passing game, he'll learn to tie his feet to his eyes. As his feet move through certain patterns, his eyes will move with him. Now he just gets back and he's done, and he has to just bounce around. It will work, but it won't be as consistent as it would if he was timing everything up and there's a system to his feet and his body. We won't clean up very much other stuff."
It's rare for a quarterback less than six feet tall to earn a five-star rating, as Murray has from 247Sports, but it's a testament to just how talented he is and how advanced he is as a prospect, despite those small things that Whitfield and Dilfer will work to clean up some this summer. Meanwhile, the competition level confirms that he isn't doing all this against completely overmatched opponents.
As a result, the fact that Murray is 5'11 isn't the most important thing about him as a prospect -- the most important thing to take away is that he's the real deal.
Murray is now the 11th pledge for the Aggies in the 2015 class and will likely be the lone quarterback take. The group now ranks No. 5 nationally and No. 3 in the SEC in the 247Sports Composite team rankings with the addition of the five-star prospect.