Look beyond the immediate ramifications of 5-star quarterback Kyler Murray‘s commitment to Texas A&M, and it’s apparent that his decision resonates on different levels within recruiting departments far beyond College Station.
A massive domino just fell in the 2015 class, and its effects are being felt on football-crazed campuses like Tuscaloosa, Ala. and Eugene, Ore.
Sure, the primary storyline is apparent.
The Aggies landed a heralded in-state standout who hasn’t lost a game in two seasons as a high school starter while accounting for 107 total touchdowns. He’s also the son of former Texas A&M star quarterback Kevin Murray—a member of the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin has assembled a crop of quarterbacks that could allow Texas A&M fans to quickly move on from Johnny Manziel. Assuming the roster remains intact between now and next year, Murray will join top-ranked 2014 signee Kyle Allen and 4-star 2013 recruit Kenny Hill.
Aggies faithful, feel free to rejoice. You may have America’s most talented group of passers entering the 2015 season.
Now let’s shift the spotlight to a secondary storyline—one that revolves around Southern California quarterback Travis Waller.
The Anaheim standout has swiftly ascended on the recruiting board as his contemporaries continue to announce commitments. Waller, a 4-star prospect at Servite High School, may suddenly be the hottest commodity on the 2015 quarterback market.
The 6’3″, 190-pound playmaker is less than two weeks removed from an outstanding performance at the prestigious Elite 11 quarterback camp in Oakland. That effort, combined with a junior season that featured nearly 3,000 total yards and 25 touchdowns, helped ensure that he would continue to attract significant collegiate attention.
Alabama extended an offer the very next day:
The Crimson Tide have struggled to secure a quarterback commitment during this cycle despite remaining on pace for a fifth consecutive No. 1 recruiting class.
Ricky Town, a 5-star California prospect, pledged to Nick Saban last summer. However, he flipped to USC in January and left Alabama with a substantial hole to fill in an otherwise well-rounded and deep class.
The Tide have attempted to fill the position with a series of players in past months, but each opted to commit elsewhere.
Jarrett Stidham joined Texas Tech in March and Brandon Wimbush went with Penn State in early May—just five days after receiving his Alabama offer. Zach Gentry chose Texas less than a week later.
Left looking for yet another option, Saban and first-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin again set their sights on the West Coast. Waller became the “next man up” in a growing line of quarterback targets.
However, the team’s pursuit of the dual-threat passer became significantly more convoluted Wednesday when Murray spurned Oregon. The Ducks, the biggest threat to steal Murray away from his home state, are likely to turn to Waller in the aftermath of Murray’s decision.
Experts project Waller to sign with Oregon in 94 percent of predictions that currently comprise 247Sports’ Crystal Ball. Given his mobility (nearly 1,293 yards rushing in 2013) and regional proximity, it isn’t hard to imagine him finding a fit in Eugene extremely soon.
Waller already has a rapport in place with the Ducks’ staff.
He visited Oregon during the winter and should view the team’s quarterback depth chart as desirable given the impending transfers of redshirt sophomore Jake Rodrigues and redshirt freshman Damion Hobbs.
Alabama’s efforts to secure a commitment from Waller just became more difficult and the Tide can thank Texas A&M. Saban won’t just have to contend with Murray on the field someday, he’s now faced with an uphill battle for his latest primary passing target as a direct result of the Texas star’s choice.
In the thick of a recruiting cycle that’s seen so much go right for Alabama, locating a quarterback continues to be the Achilles’ heel.
Expect Texas A&M’s big day to complicate things even more.
Recruit information and statistics courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.
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