NEW YORK — Kyler Murray can now be considered an Oklahoma football legend.
On Saturday night — under the bright lights of New York City’s Times Square — the Sooners quarterback was named the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner.
This may be the only season that the junior will play for Oklahoma. If so, oh what a ride it was.
Murray becomes OU’s seventh Heisman Trophy winner and will forever be known on a first-name basis like Baker, Sam, Jason, Billy, Steve and Billy.
A man with a multi-million dollar baseball contract in his pocket, Murray called his shot a-la Babe Ruth at winning college football’s most prestigious award.
“The years I’ve spent here at Oklahoma, walking by the statues every day going to class, going through the hallways and the facility, after seeing (Baker Mayfield) do it, for me, honestly, it’s something I set out to do,” Murray said about an hour after his introduction. “It was to be here and hopefully hoist up the trophy and have a statue out there one day and just make my mark, leave my mark on Oklahoma football in a positive way.”
The Heisman race between finalists Murray, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins was strongly considered a two-man race this week.
In the end, it wasn’t as close as many anticipated.
Murray finished with 517 first-place votes and 2,167 total points, distancing himself from Tagovailoa, the talented Crimson Tide quarterback who ended with 299 first-place votes and 1,871 points.
Haskins finished third with 46 first-place votes and 783 points.
Murray also won five of the six voting regions, only losing the South, which is heavy SEC country. That was even a close race, with Tagovailoa getting 375 points to Murray’s 356 points.
“This is something I’ve dreamed about my whole life,” Murray said. “A lot of hard work has been put into this. ... It hasn’t sunk in yet, but this is crazy.”
Murray follows former teammate Mayfield in winning the Heisman. It is the first time in Heisman history that quarterbacks from the same school won the award consecutively and only the fourth time one institution has had back-to-back winners.
OU now has seven Heisman Trophy winners, which ties Notre Dame and Ohio State for the most in college football.
Oklahoma’s administration will have to decide how to handle Heisman Park. Right now, there are statues of Sam Bradford, Jason White, Billy Sims, Steve Owens and Billy Vessels.
Spots are now needed outside Memorial Stadium for Mayfield and Murray.
Murray handed out plenty of thank-yous during his acceptance speech. He named each member of the offensive line, pointed out the playmakers and gave props to the defense and scout team.
He gave appreciation to former OU coach Bob Stoops and got a little emotional when talking about Lincoln Riley.
“To Coach Riley,” Murray said, before choking up, “nobody really knows how hard these past couple years have been for me but you were my family through it all. You pushed me, kept me going, kept me focused.
“You pushed me harder than any coach ever has. I just want to say thank you for believing in me and allowing me to be quarterback of this team, leader of this team.”
Added Riley: “Those who have been in the fire understand how much work it takes, how hard it is just to get to the point. A lot of things have to fall your way as well. Kyler’s journey, it’s kind of the stuff of legends. But with all the high points, there were a lot of tough moments for him. To see what that guy has gone through and improve as a player and all around, it’s a lot of pride. We have a very close and great relationship. I’m so happy for him.”
Murray had no idea how he was going to celebrate on Saturday night. During a 15-minute interview with local media, he scrolled through his phone, which was filled with congratulatory text messages.
Back in August, Murray let his friends know that he was going to have a good season.
“I just told them when I got my opportunity, I have no option but to go crazy, like, do my thing,” Murray said. “They’ve been waiting to see me on the field.
“It’s been a great year.”