Allen High (Allen, Texas) senior Kyler Murray was today named the 2014-15 Gatorade National Football of the Year. The 5-foot-11, 176-pound senior quarterback has thrown for 3,991 yards and 44 touchdowns, leading the Eagles to a 14-0 record entering the Class 6A, Division I state semifinals, scheduled for Dec. 11. A returning First Team All-USA selection by USA TODAY, Murray also rushed for 1,317 yards and 25 touchdowns on 125 carries through 14 games. He led Allen to back-to-back Class 5A, Division I state titles as a sophomore and junior, capturing state championship game MVP honors each season.
The state’s returning Gatorade Football Player of the Year has completed 64 percent of his throws on 232-of-365 passing, tossing just seven interceptions. A 2015 Under Amour All-America Game selection and 2014 Elite 11 quarterback camp finalist, Murray owns a 41-0 record as Allen’s starting quarterback. The Eagles will face 14-0 Skyline (Dallas) with a chance to advance and play for a 3-peat.
We sat down with Murray, a Texas A&M commit, to better understand how he outshined more than one million high school football players nationwide to win the award.
Q: Word is, you’re a bit of a shoe freak. How serious an addiction are we talking about, here?
A: It’s pretty bad. Well, it’s a passion, not an addiction. After all, I think I deserve it [said with sarcasm].
Q: Your mom is the daughter of a U.S. serviceman and your South Korean grandmother. You’ve written about your multicultural heritage in school papers. Will you visit South Korea someday?
A: I guess maybe I’ll take my mom someday. She seems to be interested in doing that.
Q: We heard through the grapevine that your guidance counselor, Miss Coleman, basically put your team on her back and carried you throughout the student-faculty dodgeball tournament here at Allen High. Is that true?
A: Miss Coleman? Aw, she’s kidding with you. She was basically irrelevant to the team’s success.
Q: You came to campus as a 15-year-old sophomore transfer and it took a week for you to be elevated to back-up quarterback in a varsity program that had produced five straight D1 recruits at the position. In a way, did that give you more confidence than almost anything else at that point in your career?
A: I’ve always had confidence in my abilities. When I came here, I knew the quarterback situation. I was the backup and I was hoping I’d have a chance to compete for an opportunity to be a starter, and I was fortunate enough to make that happen.
Q: You’ve quarterbacked this program to 41 straight wins and because of stadium infrastructure issues, only eight of those victories have come at home. As battled tested as you are as a signal-caller, does that road warrior mentality make you even more so?
A: No doubt. We knew going in that we wouldn’t be playing in our stadium this year and we committed to making the most of it. It has made us a stronger team, for sure. Then again, most people don’t have it as good as we do here at Allen. On Friday nights, the town shuts down. We’re on the road, but our fans make us feel at home. When 17,000 people follow you to your games, it feels like a home game.
Q: You’re 5-foot-10 1/2 and you turned 17 only four months ago. Do you ever wonder if you do get another growth spurt that it might force you to adjust your arm slot and throwing platform?
A: I don’t think I’m going to grow, and I don’t think about what I might have to change if I did.
Q: You’re the first prep athlete ever to play in both the Under Armor All-American football and baseball games, your dad was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers and your uncle was taken in the first round of the MLB draft both out of high school and college (and now works on legendary pro baseball agent Scott Boras’s staff). Is there really a chance you won’t even play high school baseball this spring?
A: Absolutely, I’m going to play. High school baseball is a passion of mine. I plan to play both sports in college. I can’t predict the future beyond that.
Q: If you guys win out and 3-peat and if you become the A&M starter next fall, it’ll be three years since you took a snap in a loss. Would there be any added pressure there?
A: No, I don’t think so. If I get to that point and I’m playing in that game, there will obviously be a lot of nerves, but once I get into the flow of the game, it’ll just be football.