Kyler Murray, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who dazzled football fans in his lone season as Oklahoma’s starter, will be reunited with an old friend.
When the Arizona Cardinals chose Murray with the first selection of the NFL draft Thursday night, he became linked to first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who once tried to recruit the legendary Allen (Texas) High School quarterback to Texas Tech.
“I cannot wait,” Murray said. “Me and him have had a relationship since I was, like, 15 years old. This is something we’ve talked about for a long time. It’s been a long time coming. God works in mysterious ways. For me to be playing for him now is a surreal feeling.”
His OU teammate, wide receiver Marquise Brown, was selected by the Baltimore Ravens with the 25th pick. Alabama running back Josh Jacobs, a McLain High School graduate, was taken 24th by the Oakland Raiders.
It was the first time in NFL history that quarterbacks from the same school were selected with the first overall pick in consecutive seasons. In 2018, Baker Mayfield was chosen by the Cleveland Browns.
“I knew they were fond of me, and I knew there was a connection there, but at the same time, I can only control what I can control,” Murray said. “That was having an open mind that anything can happen, and I’m glad that I got that call from the Cardinals, for sure.”
For now, Murray will join Josh Rosen in the Cardinals’ quarterback room. Rosen was the 10th overall pick in last year’s draft, but he struggled during his rookie season. The Cardinals (3-13) were last in the NFL in scoring offense and total offense.
“For me, my job is to come in every day, work hard and get better each and every day and do what I can to make this team better,” Murray said. “I’ve known Josh since high school, so me and him are cool. We got along really well, so I’ve always been fond of him, but you know us being teammates now, I can’t control anything but going in there and working hard.”
While Mayfield watched from his Lake Travis, Texas, home, Murray joined family, teammates and coaches in Nashville, Tennesee. The 21-year-old looked dapper in a pink suit and white Nikes with a pink swoosh.
Murray was also a first-round selection by the Oakland Athletics in the Major League Baseball amateur draft last summer. In February, the two-sport start decided football would be his professional path.
“He’s worked his whole life for this moment,” Murray’s father, Kevin Murray, said Thursday during an ABC interview. “To have this opportunity right in front of him and see his dream become a reality is just unbelievable. It really is.”
The buildup for Murray’s selection has been brewing for weeks. On Wednesday, a picture was tweeted by Riley displaying Murray’s arrival in Nashville. Among those at the airport with him were Riley and former OU coach Bob Stoops.
“I’m just so proud of Kyler and the way he’s handled this entire process,” Riley said. “He’s gone through something that no one has ever gone through with the amount of scrutiny in different sports, the hype that he’s had since he was such a young kid.
“To see him get to this moment as the No. 1 pick, that’s been his dream. To see him live this part of it out is awesome.”
Brown will join two former teammates in Baltimore. Offensive lineman Orlando Brown and tight end Mark Andrews were drafted by the Ravens in 2018.
Brown was emotional during an NFL Network interview shortly after the selection.
“I’m happy to be here. I’m thanking God. I’m ready to go. It means so much,” Brown said, fighting back tears. “I can’t even express the words. I’m just thanking God.”
Brown will team up with 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson after catching passes from Mayfield and Murray, the next two Heisman winners.
Riley was excited about Brown’s selection.
“Marquise’s story is well-documented. What are the chances a guy who had to walk to work and fight his way just to get to junior college ends up being the first receiver taken? I’m thrilled for him and his opportunity,” Riley said. “He’s going to bring a lot to the Baltimore Ravens. Their fans will love his explosiveness, which we really came to appreciate the last couple of years at Oklahoma.”
Brown is a cousin of Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown.
“He told me to enjoy this moment,” Marquise Brown said. “I put myself in a position to be here. It ain’t over yet. I’m ready to get to work.”
The second and third rounds of the draft will be held Friday night, and things will wrap up with rounds four through seven Saturday.