Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Murray's pledge could spark Aggies' class
By Damon Sayles
Whether or not it’s fair to say ESPN 300 quarterback and Texas A&M commit Kyler Murray is a pied piper is still to be determined. As good as he has been in high school -- two state championship rings, invitations to the Elite 11 finals and The Opening and nearly two dozen scholarship offers -- he has yet to play a down of college football.
But for an athlete who turns 17 in August, the expectations are incredible for Murray, who is the nation's top-ranked quarterback in the 2015 class. Watch him play and it makes sense. His drive to be the best is infectious, and his refuse-to-lose attitude has not only attracted coaches from coast to coast but also made them look past his 5-foot-11, 180-pound frame.
More important, Murray has other recruits -- on offense and defense -- wanting to be his future teammate.
The Kyler Murray effect is real, and it’s something the Aggies hope to benefit from this summer.
ESPN 300 signal-caller Kyler Murray is Texas A&M's top offensive commit and the leader of the Aggies' 2015 class.
“[Texas A&M’s] going to be a top-three class for sure,” said ESPN 300 defensive tackle Daylon Mack, the top-ranked defensive commit for the Aggies.
“We have a lot of great guys, and the best thing about it is that the positions are team needs," added Mack, who, at No. 15 in the ESPN 300, is one spot below Murray. "[Murray’s decision] was big because he was a guy that we needed to get the other guys to come in.”
Murray verbally committed to Texas A&M on May 28. The next day, ESPN 300 wide receiver Kemah Siverand made his pledge to the Aggies. Five days after that, three-star defensive tackle Kingsley Keke announced his commitment to the Aggies. Even Mack, who was thought to be wavering on his pledge, decided to cancel visits to LSU and Alabama after hearing Murray’s decision.
On June 20, there’s a chance two more players could commit to Texas A&M when they make their announcements live on ESPN.com: high school teammates DaMarkus Lodge, an ESPN 300 receiver, and Richard Moore, an outside linebacker.
Is it a stretch to say the interest in the Aggies is higher after Murray’s decision? Hardly.
“From a fan's perspective, it has to be cool for all of those guys,” said Kevin Murray, who is Kyler’s father and himself a former Texas A&M quarterback. “I’ve heard stuff about how these kids all want to play with each other and play with guys who are just as good as they are.”
Kyler Murray has done more than enough to garner followers. He has accounted for more than 8,300 yards and 107 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Ask him when he has lost a varsity game as a starter, and he’ll tell you “never.” And he doesn’t plan on losing during his season year of high school -- or in college.
That attitude is infectious. Siverand admitted one of the reasons he wanted to be an Aggie was to be in the same offense as Murray.
“He was important because he’s an elite quarterback who can definitely get you the ball, escape the pocket easily and make things happen on the ground,” Siverand said of Murray. “That really caught my interest.”
Lodge is considering Texas A&M along with schools such as Clemson, USC, Tennessee, Florida and TCU. He said he’s a fan of the Aggies’ current class -- which has nine ESPN 300 commits and 13 prospects in total -- but some wonder if Murray is the X-factor to officially put the Aggies in front when Lodge and Moore announce next week.
“There’s so much talent coming in. It’s a potential championship team,” Lodge said of Texas A&M. “[Murray’s] a great player and person, so he could be a big influence on other players.”
While there are several recruits who want to be Murray’s college teammate, his father said there are players Kyler would love to call a teammate as well. Kevin remembers being in a similar situation as his son when he committed to Texas A&M in the early 1980s. As an all-state quarterback at North Dallas High School, Kevin made it a priority to recruit some of the best athletes in the Dallas area.
“Not getting them? No. That wasn’t an option,” Kevin said. “And I think [Kyler] feels the same way.”
One player to keep an eye on is ESPN 300 receiver Jalen Guyton, Kyler’s high school teammate and favorite target last season. Guyton committed to Notre Dame on March 30 and said he’s currently solid with his pledge, but many have tried to put thoughts in his head about suiting up in an Aggies uniform and catching touchdown passes from Murray.
“They see what we did on the field last year. Kyler can do great things with talented receivers around him,” Guyton said. “He’s just got that knack for making others better. He won’t let others slack. If you’re willing to work hard, you’re going to be successful with him.
“From what I understand, that’s why coaches like quarterbacks like him to commit early. They’re the centerpiece and can draw in other talent.”
Some think the potential of the Aggies’ 2015 class hasn’t come close to hitting a ceiling yet. It could all come to fruition with the help of Murray’s pledge.
“So far, this 2015 class is looking magnificent,” Siverand said. “Hopefully, everything unfolds the right way.”