Kyler Murray jogged onto Owen Field in front of 52,102 fans prepared for a battle to succeed a Heisman Trophy-winner as the starting quarterback at Oklahoma. Six hours, 51 minutes and one Jimmy John's sandwich later, Murray strolled to the plate for No. 11 Oklahoma at L. Dale Mitchell Park, and his walkup song — “Solo” by Future — played in the background as he stepped into the box.
“I'm tryna keep it as simple as possible,” the lyrics said as the center fielder settled in, waggling his bat before the first pitch.
Murray’s day was not so simple, playing both football and baseball games in the span of nearly 11 hours. But after a day spent tracking his movements on, off and in between two fields, it’s clear his innate ability to conserve energy propels him to compete at a high level, while also exuding an unmatched confidence that makes a day like Saturday appear to come with ease.
Murray’s used to days like Saturday by now. He splits his time on the gridiron and diamond, becoming a rarity — a freak of nature in college athletics. Murray’s day was brutal. He ate only two small meals the entire day, with seemingly only one break to catch his breath. But it’s nothing new to Murray.
People have come to expect great things from Murray, who opted to attend Texas A&M instead of being a potential first round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft out of Allen High School. He makes throwing touchdowns and hitting home runs look effortless. From being one of the top baseball and football prospects in the country out of high school to, presumably, becoming the starting quarterback for Oklahoma while also leading the baseball team to a first-place start in the Big 12, Murray has perfected a balancing act that few would even attempt.
Murray is a model of efficiency when he moves — watch the way he runs, jogs and walks. He doesn’t waste energy; rather, he conserves it and unleashes it at opponents’ most vulnerable moments. He’s become a master mechanic for the human body.
“What he’s been doing is incredible,” an anonymous MLB scout said late Saturday, 12 hours into Murray’s day. “I’ve never seen anything like it ... It’s crazy.”
Murray’s abilities were on full display Saturday. The following is a look back at the hectic yet impressive day from Murray, as told by the lyrics in "Solo" by Future.
“I'm a solo now, I've been going solo now” — 9:15 a.m.
Murray arrived at Oklahoma’s football facilities for team breakfast, where he had a plethora of options to fuel the start of what would be a very long day.
Teammates loaded up on eggs, bacon, sausage, made-to-order omelettes and waffles, while Murray opted for a couple pieces of French toast. He’s never liked eating before games with the possibility of food affecting his performance. And while that may sound odd — well, it’s gotten him this far, so why change it up.
Murray was questioned a lot throughout Saturday about his routine and what he planned to eat to keep him fresh. He answered each question the same, giving short answers and saying things like, “Just got to stay fresh,” or “I don’t know what’s next.” Murray wastes no time in his responses, already thinking of what’s to come next.
There aren’t many people Murray can turn to for advice. From Jameis Winston and Russell Wilson to Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders, the list of players able to accomplish the feat Murray is attempting is short.
“If he wanted to, he could probably go out and play with the basketball team, too,” Murray’s high school football coach Tom Westerberg said. “He’s just an unbelievable athlete.”
“Be quiet, don’t brag” — 1:26 p.m.
Murray ran onto Owen Field ready to show Sooner Nation why he should be Baker Mayfield’s successor. On and off the field, Murray wanted to prove he can be the type of leader that a quarterback needs to be. Murray isn’t the most outspoken person, but he has a confidence about himself.
Murray’s swag is hard to describe. It’s the opposite of a boisterous Mayfield. Murray has a quiet confidence. He’s not going to go on a five-minute rant about Texas or run down the field waving his arms up and down at the crowd. He's going to toss the ball to the ref after a big play, briefly say what he means if asked about it and hold his head high throughout it all.
Oklahoma fans shouldn’t expect Murray to be similar to Mayfield. In fact, they’re complete opposites in most areas. You won’t see Murray telling opponents he’s their daddy or grabbing his crotch on the sideline. Instead, Murray lets his play do the talking.
"We're two totally different (players)," Murray said. "Obviously, he was one of the best here and in the game of college football. It was great to watch him for however long I did. I'll just keep grinding, being around and proving myself every day ... For me, there is no new role.”
One commonality unites the two, though.
“He just kind of gives you a wink and says, ‘We’re good,’” Westerberg said of Murray, reminiscent of Mayfield’s seeming ability to will his team to victory. “There are times you can see it in his eyes, there’s a look that says, ‘All right, we’re fixing to win this,’ and that always happens.”
“Gotta make it count” — 1:38 p.m.
Murray’s first possession of the game was nothing special. A few short passes here, a few long runs there, Murray showed small flashes of his potential. He’s no stranger to making big plays on big stages — winning three straight football state championships at Allen High School and taking his first snap as the starting quarterback for Oklahoma 65 yards.
On Saturday, Murray had the chance to separate himself in a tough quarterback battle with sophomore quarterback Austin Kendall, but 40 mph winds and a short game structure limited both quarterbacks.
During the game, Murray showed little emotion, taking care of business and running the offense as if he’s done it for years. He clapped at himself after missed throws and patted teammates on the back after missed plays. He was calm and collected, not dwelling on the last play but looking toward the next one.
Murray has been the assumed frontrunner to succeed Mayfield. His incredible athleticism was on display Saturday, with what seemed like him bursting through open holes in the defense every few plays, running for 35 yards in the game.
“There's not any quarterback in the country, probably, that's as mobile as Kyler,” coach Lincoln Riley said.
“Keep it on track” — 4:07 p.m.
Murray stood before the media following the spring game wearing a hoodie with “Know yourself” written in all caps across it. Bombarded with questions about fatigue and the high winds that shaped the game, he shrugs off questions about his hectic day, confident in the approach he’s taking.
Murray’s hoodie embodies the way he carries himself, knowing exactly what he wants to be and the way he’s going to achieve it. Given that no one at OU is doing what he is, he must know himself well enough to understand his limits and his capabilities.
“He’s very quiet, yet very confident,” Westerberg said. “It’s his confidence level. He’s puts in a lot of work. To be that special of an athlete and play at that level, it doesn’t just happen that easy."
“I enjoyed our time we been on the low for a while” — 5:15 p.m.
After a short breather at home, Murray headed to L. Dale Mitchell Park for a matchup with Texas. When Murray arrived, they had food waiting for him, only his second meal of the day — a turkey sandwich from Jimmy John’s.
Murray wasted little time getting ready, taking batting practice just over two hours after finishing the spring game. All spring, this has been Murray’s life. Football to baseball, baseball to football and, somewhere in there, he goes to class, too. Murray, a human relations major, said he rarely gets tired mentally, saying it’s more of a physical fatigue than anything.
“Playing both sports, you're always on your feet. It's recovery, taking care of your body, that type of stuff,” Murray said. “But mentally, I'm prepared for that."
“Got my name too big, everybody know right now” — 8:22 p.m.
After reaching first on a fielder’s choice in the first inning, Murray quickly rounded the bases a batter later, beating the throw to the plate by more than 3 feet on a play that the average player would have had to slide. Murray’s had arguably the best season of his career on the diamond, hitting the second-highest slugging percentage on the team (.537) and hitting the second-most home runs for the Sooners (5).
About a month ago, coach Skip Johnson recalls Murray saying during the fourth or fifth inning of a game, “I’m not tired,” but Johnson could tell his center fielder needed a break. Johnson sent Murray to the locker room, telling him to rest. An inning later, a teammate found him passed out in a recliner.
“He’s a competitor,” Johnson said Saturday. “He’s not going to want to come out of this game for nothing.”
Murray’s rare dual-sport ability has become a fan-favorite, with large crowds attending baseball games. Saturday was no different, with many fans going to both of Murray’s events despite the 40-degree weather.
“The fact that he has to come play Texas at 8 p.m. tonight, and start, that’s a full day,” said Justin Pratt, a fan who attended both the spring game and baseball game. “Just the fact that he can do both is unbelievable.”
“You got it made right now” — 10:38 p.m.
A strikeout and groundout later, Murray came to the plate for the fourth time of the night. Simultaneously, the ESPN broadcast, which raved about Murray all night, began playing highlights of him from Oklahoma’s spring game. As Murray grounded out to third, the announcers talked about the decision he will soon have to make.
With the way Murray is playing, and with the MLB Draft on June 12, he will have the opportunity to decide if he wants to go pro in baseball or stick around to potentially be OU’s quarterback.
“We’ve had some discussions on that,” Riley said. “We’re open and honest about that together.”
“That’s totally up to him and his family,” Johnson echoed. “I support whatever he wants to do.”
Murray said he won’t make his decision until a later date, although, at times, it seems clear Murray intends to play football. Why else would he go through all this trouble?
“You amazed right now” — 11:57 p.m.
Minutes after popping out to left field to end his night, Murray stands before a small group of reporters, wearing the same hoodie from before and holding a plastic container of oranges. He answers a few questions, finally saying he felt a little fatigued and will definitely feel the effects of it all in a couple days.
“I might order a pizza,” Murray said with a laugh when asked what he was going to do when he got home.
Murray then exited OU’s baseball facility and slowly walked to his Chevy Camaro with his oranges in his hand. Fourteen hours and two minutes after he walked into OU’s football facility, his feet dragged against the pavement.
"I'm tryna keep it as simple as possible."