In a press release, head coach Jeff Choate said, "Chris is obviously an important part of this team, but everyone that enters this program and this University knows that academics are the top priority. This will be a year for Chris to get his priorities in order and raise his academic work to the standard that MSU and this football program demand.”
Murray has been spectacular for the Bobcats since starting the last five games of the 2016 season and being named the Big Sky Freshman of the Year. Last year, he threw for 1,597 yards, 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions while leading the team with 1,124 yards rushing and 10 more scores.
Last month, Murray was named to our 2018 Preseason All-American Second Team as an athlete.
So how does this impact the Bobcats, a team that went 5-6 last year but returns around 14 starters and hopes to make a return to the playoffs? It won't derail the season by any means, but it does set them back. Anytime you lose a player that gifted, your offense is going to be less explosive.
But Murray may not have been the full-time starter in 2018. MSU brought in junior quarterback Travis Jonsen, who started his career at Oregon and played at Riverside Community College last year, to push Murray for the No. 1 job. Jonsen arrived at Oregon as a four-star recruit and later competed for the starting job, but was beat out coincidentally by former Bobcats starter and transfer Dakota Prukop.
“We need to create competition and add value at that quarterback position," Choate said at the signing day press conference. "At the end of the day, I think we’re going to be able to put a team out there that is going to be good enough to compete for a championship — if, and only if, we have championship-level quarterback play. And so Travis is going to be a young man that I think can help elevate that room.”
Jonsen was unable to participate in spring drills due to a freak injury when he broke his foot slipping on ice. But it now appears it's his job for the taking in August. The next in line to keep an eye on is 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman Tucker Rovig, a two-star coveted recruit out of Idaho who threw for 5,459 yards and 69 touchdowns in his career.
The Bobcats still have plenty of talent at the quarterback position. The playoffs should still be an expectation for this traditionally strong program. The path there, though, got a lot tougher with Murray now watching on the sidelines.