After it was announced that Kyler Murray was the 2018 recipient of college football’s prestigious Heisman Memorial Trophy, the University of Oklahoma junior and quarterback for the Sooners took the stage to accept his award. Murray is Oklahoma’s seventh Heisman Trophy recipient, according to ESPN.
The first words out of Kyler Murray’s mouth when he took the podium to accept the trophy were “Oh man, this is crazy.” He first thanked God, expressing “I know that there is a higher power looking down on me. He enables me to do all things, and for that I’m grateful for the many blessings that God has blessed me with.”
Before continuing his thanks, he congratulated his fellow finalists, Tua and Dwayne, for their “two historic seasons,” adding that “it’s been an honor to be with you guys the past two days and to meet y’all and be with y’all’s families.” After that, his emotions started to show, and someone from the audience yelled “Take your time” as he stopped to catch his breath and shake his head.
He thanked head coach Bob Stoops for “You and your family have been nothing but supportive of me since the day I stepped foot on campus. I want to say thank you for just giving me the opportunity to be part of such a historic program and great university.”
Murray got especially emotional while thanking Lincoln Riley, pausing several times to collect himself during his address to the Sooners’ coach. He said:
“To Coach Riley: Nobody really knows how hard these past couple years have been for me but you and my family. Through it all, you pushed me, you kept me going, you kept me focused. You pushed me harder than any coach ever has, and I just want to say thank you for believing in me and allowing me to be the quarterback of this team and the leader of this team.”
He took the time to thoughtfully thank his teammates, thanking all of his linemen by name and saying that he’d run through a wall for them. He thanked his “playmakers,” the Sooners’ running backs and wide receivers, and the Sooners’ defense and scout team, saying “I wouldn’t be up here if it wasn’t for you guys. You push me to be the best every single day.” He also thanked the nutrition staff and strength coaches for helping him get to this point.
“Lastly,” he thanked his family, especially his parents:
“To my dad: I think it goes without saying that you’re a legend to me. You taught me everything I know about this game. I honestly feel like you should be up here with me because I wouldn’t be up here if it wasn’t for you because you introduced me to this game. So thank you. I love you. To my mom, my best friend, I could be up here all day talking about you, but for me, it’s, I’m just thankful that you’re my mother. I love you.”
To conclude, Murray said:
“I need to reiterate that I know this is an individual award, but I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my teammates, my family, coaches, and Sooner Nation, so I just want to say thank you, and Boomer.”
How Murray Stacked Against the Other 2018 Heisman Finalists
Kyler Murray, who grew up in Texas, beat fellow finalists Tua Tagovailoa and Dwayne Haskins for the trophy; ESPN College Football’s Twitter pointed out that this is only the third time in Heisman Trophy history that all three finalists were quarterbacks. Before he received the trophy, Heisman.com revealed that if he won, “he’d be the first player to win the Heisman the season after replacing another Heisman winner” and “the second consecutive player to win the Heisman after transferring from another school.” Oklahoma is now the third team in history to win back-to-back Heisman trophies.
ESPN reported that as of Saturday afternoon, Murray was the betting favorite for recipient of the 2018 Heisman trophy. Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa was favored all season, even before it was announced that he would be his team’s starting quarterback as a sophomore. The voting results showed that Kyler earned the first place position with 2,167 points; Tagovailoa has 1,871 and Haskins had 783. Cumulative vote points based on percentage of votes received throughout the season show that with the 72% of votes that came in after the SEC game, Murray clinched the lead over Tagovailoa. During the SEC, Tagovailoa suffered a high ankle sprain injury, and it is not clear if he will be better in time to make the playoffs.
The Success That Earned Murray the Heisman
After Baker Mayfield went on to the NFL from Oklahoma, his quarterback spot was open for Murray to step into. Sports Illustrated reported on Murray’s success this season, who “[led] the nation in passing efficiency and yards per passing in attempt in leading the Sooners a 12–1 record and back to the College Football Playoffs.” He threw for 4053 yards with 40 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. In his last five games of the regular season, SB Nation reported that he “threw for 345 yards per game and scored 17 total touchdowns in his final five games;” he also averaged 68 rushing yards a game with 7.2 average yards per carry, inspiring SB Nation to call him “one of football’s most dangerous threats.” Oklahoma’s next game is against the University of Alabama in the Capital One Orange Bowl on December 29.
On December 6, Kyler won the College Football Awards’ Davey O’Brien award for best quarterback. According to Sports Illustrated, “eighteen of the 37 Davey O’Brien Award winners have gone on to win the Heisman as well.”
On ESPN’s College Football Holiday Special before the Heisman ceremony, Jason Fitz and Treavor Scales were in agreement that Murray should be the 2018 recipient of the Heisman. Fitz said that though he thought Murray’s win would be an upset to many, “Kyler Murray’s ability to stand back there, find a way to get himself free and make a play when he doesn’t have one is special.”
Kyler Murray’s talent is unique to college athletics at this high a level; not only is he at the very top of college football prestige and a prospective NFL draft pick, he is currently expected to start a career in professional baseball next year. In June, Murray signed a contract to play for the Oakland A’s. ESPN reported that at the time that the A’s picked Murray as their “surprise ninth overall draft pick,” executive vice president Billy Beane said “In January, we’re going to be so excited this kid is playing for the Oakland A’s;” Murray received a $4.66 million signing bonus from the organization.
Heisman Trophy History
According to Heisman.com, the honor was first awarded in 1935 to Jay Berwanger, though the trophy wasn’t named after “legendary football coach and DAC athletic director John W. Heisman” until 1936, following his death on October 3, 1936. Past Heisman winners who went on to famed NFL football careers include Paul Hornung (1956), O.J. Simpson (1968), Tim Tebow (2007) and Cam Newton (2010). Last year’s recipient, Baker Mayfield (also of the Oklahoma Sooners), is currently playing for the Cleveland Browns.
On December 8 at 8pm ET, ESPN aired the 2018 Heisman Ceremony, which took place in New York City.