OU football: Pro day another indicator that Kyler Murray remains must-see TV

Kyle Phillips / The Transcript

Former Oklahoma quarter Kyler Murray throws a pass during OU's pro day Wednesday at the Everest Training Center.

NORMAN, Okla. — Three of the four industrial fans that hang from the Everest Indoor Training Center’s expansive ceiling were working. But aside from their hum, the hangar-like structure was largely silent.

Marquise Brown’s cell phone rang once before he muffled it, and the sound carried clear to midfield.

“Yeah, I heard that,” Kyler Murray said.

As one of Murray’s past receivers, Brown had knelt to watch the former Oklahoma quarterback’s pro day workout Wednesday — along with about 400 others who waited almost three hours to see Murray conduct a roughly 25-minute scripted throwing session.

Representatives from all 32 NFL teams, more than 100 credentialed media members and dozens of former Sooners lined the field to watch, keeping their voices just above a whisper.

As usual, Murray had the football world’s attention, this time during what became this offseason’s most anticipated pro day on a college campus.

He has been the subject of criticism — NFL Network analyst Charlie Casserly’s report that Murray flopped in his combine interviews was widely circulated — and has had his official combine 5-foot-10 1/8 inch height called into question.

Those knocks are reminders that Murray is undergoing the microscopic evaluation reserved for the most elite athletes in sport — as was the stillness among the crowd that watched him.

“It was pretty quiet … It's a little different when a GM or coaches are on the sideline watching,” Murray said. “I was kind of anxious waiting for the day to come. I haven't really done anything throughout the process other than be on TV and being talked about.

“I didn't do anything at the combine, just stood around and watched. Today was the first day I kind of did something. It was fun.”

Unofficially, Murray completed 61 of 67 passes, many from inside the pocket as former NFL quarterback and coach Jim Zorn conducted the workout with the intent to showcase Murray’s skills taking snaps under center, not from the shotgun.

It was Murray’s final public opportunity to showcase himself before the NFL Draft, in which oddsmakers predict he’ll be the No. 1 overall selection. He admitted he’s been in contact with Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, who holds the No. 1 selection, as recently as “the other day.”

While it may have seemed like a formality, the throwing session, which scouts and OU coach Lincoln Riley indicated went well, held importance. Many evaluators had never seen Murray throw in person until Wednesday.

The only question left unanswered were doubts about his height. Murray didn’t measure Wednesday, Riley said, because per program policy only Sooners who don’t measure at the combine will do so on pro day.

He weighed in at 205 pounds, two pounds lighter than at the combine, and refused any other physical tests, including the 40-yard dash. Murray didn’t want to risk injury before throwing and encouraged anyone interested in his speed to review his 2018-19 highlights.

“Watch the film,” he said.

In his report, Casserly called Murray’s leadership and football IQ into question. The former Sooner didn’t offer a response to that assessment, but former OU tackle Cody Ford did.

"He’s not the typical guy that is gonna yell every five seconds,” Ford said. "He’ll yell when he needs to and he’ll get on someone’s butt when he needs to, but he’s one of those leaders that will lead by example, too.

"I recall against Texas he was getting hit a lot. I never remember a guy getting hit like that and he never complained to his o-line. He never said one thing to us. We knew we had to get the job done as a far as protecting him better, which I felt like he did in the second half.

"For him to not say a word to us other than let’s get it and let’s go, no complaining, showed me what kinda leader he is and will be for a long time."

Murray met with the New York Giants before meeting a flock of reporters for a press conference. He’ll take a break after more meetings Thursday, though he anticipates other visits to teams will keep him on the move.

His final trip will be to Nashville for the April 25 NFL Draft, where he’ll take center stage again if he’s the first player taken off the board.

If Wednesday provided anything beyond confirmation of Murray’s ability to throw a football, it was that he still demands an audience.

“I would say the whole story,” is what has captivated so many people, Riley said. “It’s kind of like a movie script right now.”

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