Class of 2015 quarterback Kyler Murray made quite an opening statement Friday night, when his junior season commenced with a commanding performance in a blowout victory. He used his right arm and legs to lead Allen High School (Texas) to a 49-27 win over perennial state title contender Southlake Carroll.
Murray was magnificent, completing 17 of 25 pass attempts for 464 yards and three touchdowns through the air, according to USA Today. He added 78 yards and a pair of scores on the ground.
The prodigious display dazzled a crowd of nearly 20,000 in attendance for the debut of Allen's second season at its new $60 million stadium. It also cements Murray's place among the most elite quarterbacks in the 2015 class.
He currently ranks second nationally in the dual-threat quarterback department, according to 247Sports composite rankings. The ranking system also places Murray 10th overall in Texas and 82nd nationally among high school juniors.
The 5'11", 170-pound 16-year-old is rapidly racking up scholarship offers. His options include Clemson, Arkansas, North Carolina, Ohio State, Texas and Auburn, according to 247Sports.
Despite a lengthy list of potential landing spots, one team has already emerged as a prohibitive favorite to sign Murray. You can blame it on family history.
Kevin Murray, Kyler's father, spent his collegiate days at College Station. He established several Texas A&M passing records and was named the Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year in 1986.
The Aggies presently sit atop his list of college programs, per 247Sports. Murray may have his choice of any squad in the country if he continues to progress at such a scintillating pace.
He shined throughout the 2012 season, which ended with Allen reigning as Class 5A state champions. As a sophomore, Murray threw for 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns, while rushing for more than 1,300 yards and 25 touchdowns, according to The Dallas Morning News.
His skills as a passer, while far from polished, are practically college-ready.
Murray displays consistent drop-back fundamentals that were clearly crafted through years of closely monitored repetition (consider it a perk of being a quarterback's kid). He doesn't waste steps, maintains appropriate weight balance and does an excellent job of keeping tabs on the action in front of him.
Although he doesn't possess ideal height—something that may change as Murray continues to physically mature—there's evidence that he won't have any trouble surveying the field behind a much bigger offensive line at the next level.
Very much in the mold of "undersized" passers Russell Wilson and Pat White, Murray maneuvers laterally in the pocket while keeping his head on a swivel and shoulders square. He has that uncanny ability to dissect a play as it's developing and slings passes into spots where only his receivers will have an opportunity to come down with the football.
Although his motions are technical, there's a fluidity to the approach that shows Murray isn't pressing. He's even more impressive when under pressure from the opposing defense.
Yahoo! Sports lists his 40-yard-dash time at 4.52, which may be conservative when considering the quickness he displays on tape. When Murray makes the decision to tuck the ball and take off, he's often five yards upfield before secondary defenders can supply reinforcement.
He has exceptional shake in the open field, slipping in and out of running lanes with little effort and a knee-buckling stutter step. Murray's rushing abilities become even more of a threat when his team enters the red zone.
His array of abilities force defensive coordinators to make difficult decisions. A contain scheme may inhibit Murray's opportunities to run, but it allows him to sit back in the pocket and survey the situation with more open space to exploit in the flat.
He throws a crisp deep ball that burns defensive backs, and he continues to develop increased accuracy in the intermediate passing game. Murray must improve elements of his throwing motion in order to make more strides, particularly when it comes to precision and the quickness of his release.
An elongated release is much harder to work with than a short one, which is good news for his future development. Murray occasionally pushes the ball, creating a downward spiral that forces receivers to react by reaching low, ultimately slowing the progression of a play.
These are slight mechanical issues that every young quarterback must work through en route to stardom. His body of work to this point leaves little doubt that Murray is persistent in focusing on his evolution as a passer.
As the yards, touchdowns and scholarship offers continue to mount, expect Murray to command a national spotlight during his final two high school seasons. There's a strong chance he may emerge as the top quarterback in his class.
The future looks bright for the junior and it's certainly exciting to speculate about his untapped potential. For now, all you can do is admire the five-touchdown, 540-yard performance Murray just posted as a state title encore.
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