(STATS) - Montana State won't have its difference-maker on offense this year as junior quarterback Chris Murray will sit out the season to focus on academics, coach Jeff Choate announced Wednesday.
The Big Sky Conference's 2016 freshman of the year, Murray will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2019 season. Montana State's academic standards are higher than NCAA requirements.
"Chris is obviously an important part of this team," Choate said, "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 had been hoping to lead Montana State into Big Sky title contention this season, Choate's third with the Bobcats. As a sophomore, Murray passed for 1,597 yards and rushed for 1,124 while accounting for 25 total touchdowns.
Montana State will open preseason camp on Aug. 3. Junior college transfer Travis Jonsen, who spent time in Oregon's program, is considered the front-runner to win the starting job. Troy Anderson, last year's Big Sky freshman of the year as a running back and linebacker, was a state championship-winning quarterback in high school and figures to be under consideration as well.