Longtime Texas A&M commit Kyler Murray, the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Offensive Player of the Year, created a stir in recruiting circles when he visited Texas and tweeted photos of a Texas jersey with his number.
Consider that issue closed.
Murray, the undefeated quarterback at Allen, Texas, announced late Thursday night that he will remain committed to Texas A&M after an in-home visit with Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin and quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital.
But Murray’s influence could have a great impact in the final hours until Wednesday’s Signing Day for both A&M and Texas.
“Texas A&M is where my heart is at,” Murray told ESPN. “Coach [Charlie] Strong and Texas is a great opportunity, but I felt that A&M was the place for me. Not because of my dad having played there, but just the right place for me.”
Murray’s father, Kevin, was a two-time All-American at Texas A&M.
Kyler, who will sign his letter of intent at his school Wednesday, said the A&M coaches answered the questions he had and he expressed relief that the process was over.
“I just can’t wait to get this all over with and get back to playing ball,” he said.
Freshman Kyle Allen took over the quarterback job late last season and led the Aggies to three wins and an 8-5 finish. The combination of Allen, who was the No. 1 QB in the Class of 2014, and Murray, the No. 1 QB in the Class of 2015, gives Sumlin and Spavital plenty of options.
“This is a huge, huge pickup for A&M,” ESPN recruiting analyst Craig Haubert said. “They certainly seemed settled at the quarterback position for the next few years in the wake of the Johnny Football Era.”
It also is a huge blow for Texas and Charlie Strong at a position of need. The Longhorns seem likely to turn their attention to Kai Locksley, a Florida State commit from Baltimore (Gilman). Locksley, whose father is the offensive coordinator at Maryland, had an in-home visit with FSU coach Jimbo Fisher and quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders on Wednesday. Texas coaches also are expected for an in-home visit.
All was not lost for Texas, though, with the additions Friday of two four-star in-state defensive backs. Holton Hill of Houston Lamar and Kris Boyd of Gilmer jointly announced their commitments to the Longhorns on an Austin television station, allowing Texas to reload at a position that had become thin. Hill is ranked as the No. 7 cornerback nationally and Boyd is No. 11 in the 247Sports Composite rankings. Both had A&M among their finalists.
“Texas really needs a quarterback badly in this class so Murray hurt,” said Mike Farrell, national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. “If they don’t swing Locksley, they are in trouble, but the two defensive backs are a great addition.”
Given that Murray seemingly had a clearer path to playing time at Texas — and there have been indications that Texas was willing to tailor its offense to fit him — the decision to stick with A&M could have a carryover effect.
“This really may be the biggest recruiting get yet for Kevin Sumlin,” said Barton Simmons, a national recruiting analyst for 247 Sports. “To be able to fend off the in-state rivals who have a much more appealing depth chart at the position for a kid that’s become a state legend and almost like a Pied Piper in the state of Texas, you can’t really overstate what this means for where the Texas A&M program is going and the job they’ve done on the recruiting trail offensively.”
A&M is also in the running for several other top players, including many from Texas, and that is where Murray could have an immediate impact. The two most notable players are both former A&M commits who have reopened their recruiting. Murray’s friend, DaMarkus Lodge, a four-star wide receiver from Cedar Hill, Texas, visited Texas at the same time as Murray and also tweeted photos of a Longhorns jersey with his high school number. Defensive tackle Daylon Mack, a top 10 player in some rankings from Gladewater, Texas, had decommited after the Aggies changed defensive coordinators but reconsidered with the hiring of John Chavis from LSU. Mack is close friends with Malik Jefferson, the top outside linebacker in the class who is already enrolled at Texas. Mack tweeted photos of he and Jefferson together during Mack’s campus visit last weekend.
“It’s already a very good class,” Haubert said. “You bring Murray into the mix and he’s the type of guys who can rally other recruits currently in this class and uncommitted players to get them on board.
“He’s one of those guys who leads and other players tend to follow. He can have not only an impact on the field but on the recruiting trail.”
Simmons sees Murray’s decision as a potential turning point in the Texas vs. Texas A&M recruiting battle.
“It was a two-fold win for Texas A&M, just getting an unbelievable talent on campus and using that get as a springboard to either get some other guys or as a stopgap to prevent Texas from landing some other guys,” Simmon said. “We’ll see what happens, but Kyler Murray has the potential because of the leadership role he has shown in the state of Texas to sway some guys on the fence one way or the other.
“Had Murray picked Texas, there was a real shot for them to land a slew of top guys. Now, I think they split those guys a bit more. The momentum has shifted a little bit.”