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March 12, 2013Last summer, Allen quarterback Kyler Murray was just another transfer student, leaving the world that he knew behind and just trying to find his way in a new one, something that so many others go through every summer and something that at times can be an even greater challenge off the field than on it.
Four months later, Murray was the quarterback of a state championship football team, someone who was approached at local fast food restaurants for an autograph.
All of this and he's not even 16 years old yet.
Murray has been through a lot over the past few months but he's approached everything off the field with the same cool, calm demeanor that he has on it. It means he is capable of making things look easy even when they aren't and like any teenager encountering a new situation there were struggles along the way.
You would never know that by the numbers that he put up last season: 153 of 249 (61.5% completion percentage) for 2,004 yards 17 touchdowns passing along with another 1,370 yards and 25 touchdowns rushing on 188 attempts. However, when Murray arrived at Allen last summer, not only was he the new kid in town but he was also playing on the varsity for the first time in a program where high expectations are the norm rather than the exception. In addition, keep in mind that Murray didn't get any benefit of participating in spring football or even doing 7 on 7 work during the summer with the people that he would be throwing to in the fall.
"I was doing summer workouts by the beginning of July," he said. "They welcomed me real quickly. They assigned a kid to show me around and stay by them to get the hang of things."
Murray also split time during the first five games of the season with senior Oliver Pierce until the top ranked Eagles slipped up at Coppell near mid-season.
"I did not start out as the starter and it was hard getting the offense down," he said. "I definitely struggled getting the calls down. Eventually, it got easier and I started after the Coppell loss (a 27-24 defeat)."
After that, Murray was handed the keys to the offense and neither he nor the Eagles ever looked back as they beat three undefeated programs in the playoffs on their way to the state championship.
However, one thing did change -- and quickly. Murray was no longer the new kid on the block in Allen.
"People know who I am now," he said. "Kids want your autograph. People talk to me about it all of the time. It's kind of crazy."
That type of attention started happening after games as well. After Allen's win over Dallas Skyline in the regional finals, he noticed that there was a larger media contingent as well.
"At the beginning of the year it was weird," he said, "but I knew that was going to happen. That (after the Skyline game) was the first time that there were a lot of people around, not just one person talking to me."
Not only that, Murray's talents were introduced to regional and then statewide audiences as Allen's semi final (DeSoto) and state title game (Houston Lamar) wins were televised.
"After both games my Twitter was blowing up like it never has before," he said. "After the state championship game it was blowing up even more."
If you watched Murray during those two games (36 carries for 243 yards and four touchdowns), one might get the wrong sense of what he is all about as a quarterback. Murray is indeed a fast and elusive runner but he's also as poised a player as your will ever see (a 17:5 touchdown to interception ratio in his first year as a starting quarterback is testimony to that). He is also the son of former Texas A&M quarterback Kevin Murray who also has a passing academy and works with quarterbacks at all levels of football. Murray's delivery and footwork were among the best at last year's regional Elite 11 event at Cowboys Stadium and he was the youngest participant in a field that included multiple Rivals.com four star prospects from across the country.
"I don't enjoy running" said Murray. "This year, I told coach all of the time that I would rather throw but this year we had a great line. It was a mismatch and that's why we ran the ball so much. I would rather sit back there and throw the ball."
"He (his father) set the foundation but it's been up to me. My mechanics are natural. Coming back to football from baseball is the only time I'm out of whack."
Football fans weren't the only ones taking note of Murray's abilities. Although colleges cannot contact Murray directly yet (at least not until his junior season), he's already received two scholarship offers. If you are wondering how big of a deal that is, even with the move toward early recruiting only 18 members of the class of 2015 within the state of Texas have gotten an offer so far. In fact, knowledge of his first offer came just hours after he won a state championship.
"Clemson called coach Westerberg (Allen head coach) on Friday morning before the game on Saturday," said Murray. "I didn't find out until one in the morning after game. My dad texted me while I was in a Taco Bell drive thru. I was shocked."
Murray's second offer took a little longer but it came through last week and this time he had a chance to talk with Ohio State which offered him last week.
"Coach Westerberg told me that they were going to offer me," he said. "He told me to call coach Herman and talk to him and they offered me on Friday."
"He talked about the quarterback position and how I would fit into it" said Murray. "They only offer elite quarterbacks and there's not many they like in the sophomore class and the junior class. That says a lot."
In addition to the offers that he has received, Murray has seen coaches from programs such as Texas A&M, Florida, and Oregon come by to watch him work out and his head coach has also told him that Arizona State is highly interested. With limited contact allowed for underclassmen and many schools in full swing on 2014 recruiting, Murray is not going to be overwhelmed in terms of attention but he understands that he has got to start thinking about the process.
I definitely want a school that runs the spread" he said. "A school that knows what they are getting with me (dual threat quarterback). Ohio State has Braxton Miller, a kid who can run and throw. The coaches have to be people that can help me get better. Academics are important. I want my parents to be able to watch me play and come to my games."
Murray has been to A&M multiple times, most recently for the A&M/Florida game last season ("It was exciting. I liked it"). He currently plans on going back for the Friday Night Lights event on April 5.
"Clemson wants me to come up some time," he said. "I got invited to the Rivals camp this Sunday, but I don't know if I'm going yet. I went to the Elite 11 last year and I may go again."
Murray's favorites currently include Clemson, Ohio State, A&M, Florida, and Oregon. He doesn't have a timetable yet for making a commitment because the process has literally just started for him. In fact, Murray has other things on his mind right now such as baseball (where he plays second base and shortstop and bats .400 as the leadoff hitter) and repeating as state champions in football. Murray will play summer baseball again but unlike last year he will have a chance to work with his receivers in 7 on 7 tournaments and he expects the Eagles to be even better when the pads come on the fall.
"Up until this year, I haven't done 7-on-7," he said. "This year, whenever we have 7-on=7, I'll be doing that instead of playing baseball."