GLENDALE, Ariz. _ Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray is giving the stiff-arm to baseball. He tweeted Monday that his goal is to become an NFL quarterback because football is "my love and my passion."
White Sox center fielder Adam Engel salutes that decision, saying: "If I had a chance to talk to Kyler, I'd say: Follow your passion, follow your heart. It sounds like that is what he is doing. Do whatever you love to do. That way you will enjoy it for whatever your career allows."
Engel had his own football/baseball dilemma while playing quarterback at Ohio's Loveland High School.
"I was trying really hard to get recruited to play football, but it was a slow process," he said Tuesday during White Sox spring training workouts. "When I found out I probably couldn't play (Division I), I said: OK, I'll play baseball."
Engel accepted a scholarship to play baseball at Louisville. About a week later, Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema offered a full ride.
"My word means a lot to me," Engel said.
Make no mistake: Had the Badgers offered first, Engel would have joined a 2010 recruiting class that featured running back James White. He likely would have been a slot receiver.
"But I would have played anywhere," he said. "Football was my favorite sport to play. But here playing in the big leagues, it's hard to say I made a mistake. I love what I do."
Engel proved to be one of baseball's best athletes last season, soaring above the fence to rob three hitters of home runs during a one-week span. (One theft came off the bat of new teammate Yonder Alonso.)
Engel, 27, is still trying to establish his offensive credentials. He hit .235 last season with six homers and 18 walks in 463 plate appearances, getting on base 27.9 percent of the time. That's up from a .235 on-base percentage in 2017.
"My big goal for the season is to get on base at a higher clip," he said. "I want to really mature as a batter — work counts and bring value. If I can get on base, I can help the team."
Engel hopes to develop into a top-of-the-order threat, saying: "As I develop, I think I will move toward the top of the lineup. I want to be that (No.) 1 or 2 guy. I think that's attainable. That being said, I've got some work to do."
Engel said he ran "in the 4.4s" in high school but said it would be "ignorant" to believe he could have become an NFL player in the mold of the Patriots' Julian Edelman.
"There's such a skill and craft to what he does," Engel said.
Football, he said, is "a different animal. During the game the whole thing is adrenaline-based. In baseball it's better to be able to calm yourself down."
The White Sox drafted Engel in the 19th round in 2013, cementing his choice of sports.
Had he played for Bielema at Wisconsin, he would have tried for an NFL career.
"But who knows," he said. "Maybe I'd be at a desk somewhere working a day job."