Kyler Murray, one of the top prospects in American collegiate sport, has found himself at the center of a Twitter controversy after old tweets surfaced using homophobic slurs.
Murray is the two-sport star of Oklahoma University and is predicted to be a future big name in either the NFL or Major League Baseball.
The 21-year-old quarterback was awarded the revered Heisman Trophy, the honor given to the best player in college football.
But his rise to prominence has also resulted in the emergence of tweets posted more than six years ago, when Murray, as a 15-year-old, tweeted at his friends using an anti-gay slur.
Four such tweets were discovered and remained on his Twitter account on Saturday night, but were deleted by Sunday morning.
Murray later took to the social media platform to issue a public apology for comments made during his teenage years.
I apologize for the tweets that have come to light tonight from when I was 14 and 15. I used a poor choice of word that doesn’t reflect who I am or what I believe. I did not intend to single out any individual or group.
— Kyler Murray (@TheKylerMurray) December 9, 2018
“I apologize for the tweets that have come to light tonight from when I was 14 and 15,” the Sooners quarterback wrote.
“I used a poor choice of word that doesn’t reflect who I am or what I believe.
“I did not intend to single out any individual or group.”
Outrage over tweets posted as youngsters has become something of a trend in American sports, with a host of players finding themselves in similar situations after negative stories regarding years-old tweets appeared during high-profile moments in their emerging careers.
Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen faced a similar situation on the eve of the 2018 NFL Draft regarding racist tweets posted during his teenage years.
Allen issued a similar apology and his draft stock appeared relatively undamaged as he was drafted seventh overall by the Buffalo Bills, who traded up to secure the signing of the big-armed quarterback.
Another example saw Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader forced to apologize after racist, misogynistic and homophobic tweets from his teenage years resurfaced this summer.
Despite his abilities on the American football field, Murray looks set to turn his back on a potential career in the NFL in order to pursue a professional baseball career instead.
He was drafted ninth overall as a center fielder by the Oakland Athletics in this year’s Major League Baseball draft, and his baseball agent Scott Boras told NFL.com that there was no doubt which sport his client would be playing next season.
“Kyler has agreed and the A’s agreed to a baseball contract that gave him permission to play college football through the end of the collegiate season,” he said.
“After that, he is under contract to play baseball. That is not a determination to make. It’s already done.”
Murray is set to join the A’s for spring training in February after the College Football Playoffs, where Oklahoma will take on Alabama on December 29.