Kyler Murray feels no pressure to be the next Johnny Manziel


BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Kyler Murray knows all about trying to create a name for himself in a world where he already has one.

Some see his highlights, his budding reputation in Texas high school football lore and where he's committed to play college football -- at Texas A&M -- and instantly label him as "The Next Johnny Manziel." He understands and accepts it.

After all, he's used to being known to most folks as anything but Kyler.

"If anything, it's all cool. Johnny is Johnny and he does his thing. We do play similar and I can't deny that," Murray said. "But pressure? No, there's none of that going to A&M. Johnny left some big shoes to fill and they're going to miss him for sure and what he brought to the table."

Prior to the Manziel analogies, Murray was known mostly as "Kevin Murray's son." Those familiar with the Southwestern Conference era know Kyler's father well, a record-setting passer for the Aggies in the late 1980s who was one of the best quarterbacks to come through College Station but saw a potential NFL career derailed by severe ankle injuries. Such is the situation that one can hardly find an article or interview about Kyler without seeing Kevin's name somewhere on the page.

On the field at Nike's World Headquarters this week at the Elite 11 quarterback competition, though, the Allen (Texas) quarterback is known just for what he does between the lines with his arm and what he can do on the chalkboard outside of them. He's impressed coaches and observers with his approach and his arm. Despite his short stature, he's displayed no shortage of arm talent and makes a quality throw nearly every time.

And being friends with the most famous of the Elite 11 counselors in attendance? Well, that's just a bonus.

"I remember the first game [Manziel] played, against Florida. I didn't even like Texas A&M at the time, I just went down there because my dad was getting honored. We were asking who the quarterback was. A&M hadn't really had a quarterback in a while and then he did his thing," said Murray. "I first met him at the Elite 11 in Dallas before my sophomore year and got to talk with him. He already knew of me because of Kliff (Kingsbury, Texas A&M's quarterback coach at the time) and because he follows Texas high school football.

"We kind of clicked and we've been cool ever since."

It's been a cool time for Murray ever since, too. A few months after meeting Manziel, he guided Allen to its second state championship in football in school history and was named MVP of the title game. As a junior, he picked up where he left off and helped the team earn back-to-back titles while being named Gatorade Player of the Year.

That he played last year's championship game, a 63-28 romp, in front of a state-record crowd of more than 54,000 people at AT&T Stadium is something that certainly gives him an accomplishment his Heisman Trophy-winning friend has not achieved. Add in being named an Elite 11 quarterback and Murray will head to college with a better resume than his friend on the Cleveland Browns -- at least as a prep that is.

You won't hear the two talk about any of those things when they get a chance to chat away from the microphones and cameras that seem to be omnipresent around one and everywhere around the other at the prestigious event in Oregon. The pair discuss various things and text each other often. It was Manziel who actually helped Murray make the decision to be an Aggie over an Oregon Duck, even if the young signal-caller was looking to create an identity separate from his father's on the A&M campus when he was first recruited.

"Johnny really helped me out a lot and gave me both sides because he wanted what's best for me as a quarterback," Murray remarked. "He knows Oregon and went to Oregon but chose Texas A&M. He wasn't bragging on Texas A&M, he just gave me the best of both and I respect that. He gave me the truth.

"He doesn't really give me a lot of advice, we just talk like we're boys. He knows what to say and we just talk as friends. It's good to have him in your corner."

It is certainly good to have friends in high places. Murray knows that with a little hard work and the requisite success, though, he won't just have friends in those places. He'll be there, too.

*Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter **@BryanDFischer.*

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