After weeks of speculation, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner officially declared for the NFL draft. Another star player who’s a near-guarantee to go in the first round also declared, while a former Tennessee quarterback is returning to his alma mater. Here are the latest college football news and notes.
Murray enters name in NFL draft
Stuck between a decision to play football or baseball, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray has taken a big step in the direction of football. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner announced that he has elected to enter his name into the upcoming NFL draft.
Murray’s decision does not mean that football is his final choice. The Oakland A’s, who drafted him 9th overall in last year’s MLB draft, can still negotiate with Murray and offer additional money in hopes to convince him to play baseball. Oakland and Murray already have a contract in place from when he was drafted, which includes a $4.66 million signing bonus.
In his first and only season as a starter at Oklahoma, Murray threw for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns, along with 1,001 yards rushing with 12 touchdowns. Along with capturing the Heisman, he led Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff semifinals. He is currently being projected to get drafted in the first round.
Both the NFL and MLB have key dates coming up, which both affect Murray’s impending decision. The NFL Scouting Combine begins in Indianapolis on February 26th, with the draft taking place about two months after that. Meanwhile, spring training is coming up fast, with Athletics players having to report by February 15th.
LSU’s White declares for draft
For every two-sport star like Murray who is wrestling with the decision to play professional football, there are dozens of underclassmen who also face a tough decision. For LSU’s star linebacker Devin White, the decision has been made, and it’s going to make a lot of pro teams very happy.
White announced that he will forego his senior season and enter the 2019 NFL draft. The junior is being projected as a top-10 overall pick and the best inside linebacker in the entire draft class.
This season, White had 123 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss. He also had three sacks to go along with three forced fumbles. White will finish his college career with 286 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles in 34 games.
Tee Martin returns to Vols
20 years after quarterbacking Tennessee to a national championship, Tee Martin is returning to Knoxville. The former Volunteers quarterback is being hired to join Tennessee’s offensive coaching staff.
Martin, 40, was most recently the USC offensive coordinator, promoted to the position in 2016. He had been a member of the Trojans staff in some capacity since 2012. Following a bad 2018 campaign, he was relieved of his duties. After weighing several offers, including various roles at Alabama, Auburn, Louisville, Maryland, and Vanderbilt, Martin decided to accept a position with his alma mater.
It is still unknown what exact position on the offensive staff Martin will have, but excitement will surely come with the return of a Tennessee legend. Martin replaced Peyton Manning in 1998, leading the Vols to a 13-0 record and their first national championship in nearly 50 years.
The deadline to declare for the NFL draft has come and gone, which means the next big date up ahead this offseason is National Signing Day. Amateur athletes will officially put pen to paper on February 6th to sign their Letters of Intent and begin their collegiate careers.