Allen High (Allen, Texas) senior Kyler Murray may someday be wary of Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr prowling for takeaways from his intended receivers, but today, their introduction was all about giving as the seventh-year pro surprised the Eagles quarterback with the 2014-15 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year trophy.
“This is obviously a great honor and a very big award,” said Murray, 17, a Texas A&M commit. “But my focus is on winning a state championship right now. That’s why when [Brandon Carr] handed me the trophy, the first thing I said, ‘Two more. Two more.’ That’s where my main focus is. Two more wins. Even when I’m being recognized with this type of award.”
Kyler Murray holds the trophy during a press conference after being named the 2014-15 Gatorade National Football Player of the Year. / Susan Goldman, Gatorade
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 American Family Insurance ALL-USA selection by USA TODAY Sports, 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.
“I can’t even imagine how it feels for Kyler because I was a late bloomer and never won any awards,” said Brandon Carr, 28, the Cowboys’ starting left corner. “The sacrifice and dedication required to even aim for winning an award like this, I mean, of all the guys in the country who dream of winning this and who are gunning for it, and he wins it. I’m honored to be a part of it and I’ve been struck by his humility and grace.”
Murray has maintained a B-plus average in the classroom. In addition to donating his time as a youth football instructor, he has volunteered locally as part of the Reading with the Eagles youth literacy-outreach and anti-bullying program. An active participant in Nike’s Night of Champions program supporting youth empowerment through athletics, he also serves as a mentor to several student team managers with special needs.
“For me, the best high school quarterback in the country this year is Kyler Murray,” said Brandon Huffman, National Recruiting Director for Scout.com. “For what he’s done—playing at the classification he’s playing at and playing in Texas—that’s pretty unbelievable. He does everything you want a high school quarterback to do, but he also has the skills to translate at the next level.”
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.
The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Murray is now a finalist for the Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award. USA TODAY High School Sports administrates the nationwide selection process in collaboration with Gatorade.
Murray is the 29th prep athlete from Texas to win national Gatorade honors in any sport, second only to California in the award’s 30-year history. He joins a distinguished list of national-winner alumni from the Lone Star State, including three-time Cy Young Award-winner Clayton Kershaw (Highland Park, Dallas), who won in 2006, current University of Texas running back Johnathan Gray (Aledo), the 2011 winner in football, and Olympic track and field silver medalist Kerron Clement (LaPorte), who won in 2003.
Murray also becomes only the third Texan to win Gatorade’s national football award. He was preceded by Gray and NFL free agent quarterback Garrett Gilbert (Lake Travis), who won in 2008.
Behind California (62 winners) and Texas, Florida—with 20—has produced the next-most Gatorade national winners across 12 sports, followed by Illinois (15), Indiana (12) and Virginia (11).
By Kevin Hageland | @OThankKevin