North Texas Daily

Freshman offensive lineman towering over expectations

Freshman offensive lineman towering over expectations

October 01
12:31 2015

Alex Lessard | Staff Writer

@alexlikechexmix

Last year, scouts from across the country gathered at Coppell High School in search of five-star talent. One under-the-radar prospect caught their eyes before even taking a step on to the field.

Measured at 6’9, 360 pounds, freshman offensive lineman Jordan Murray is by far the largest player on the North Texas roster. When Murray first arrived for summer camp, players and coaches were shocked at how small he made everyone else look, including junior offensive lineman Kaydon Kirby.

“The first time you meet him, you look up at him and he makes you feel like a kid,” Kirby said.

Murray’s massive frame helped him garner attention from across the country. After going through the pros and cons of each of his collegiate options, Murray initially made a verbal commitment to San Diego State University.

But the opportunity to change his mind still remained, and Mean Green head coach Dan McCarney was determined to convince Murray that North Texas was the right place to be.

“For a while in the recruiting process, he wanted to get as far away from Denton, Texas as he could,” McCarney said. “As time when on, I think he realized it might be best just to stay close to home and be close to family.”

North Texas was Murray’s last college visit, spending an entire weekend touring campus and team facilities with family. On other visits, coaches talked about playing Murray at guard rather than at tackle, his most natural position. At North Texas, offensive line coach Mike Simmonds told Murray he could have a chance to start at left tackle as a freshman.

“He puts people in the [NFL],” Murray said of his position coach. “That’s my goal. Those are my aspirations. That’s what I want to do. I felt like this was a place I could make an immediate impact.”

Despite being ranked as a three-star recruit and the No. 15 offensive tackle in Texas by Scout.com, Murray came into camp buried behind veterans on the depth chart. He continued to work hard, learned the playbook quickly and impressed coaches enough to be named the starting left tackle for the first home game of the season against Rice University.

The coaching staff however has not stuck with the same starting lineup on either side of the ball through the first three games, especially on the offensive line. McCarney said the left tackle battle between Murray and senior offensive lineman Michael Banogu will likely continue throughout the season, and playing time will be determined on a week-to-week basis.

“[Murray’s] maturity is way beyond his age, along with his length, toughness and grit,” McCarney said. “He hates to get beat and he’s coachable. Those are all great things when you’re looking at offensive linemen.”

Murray spent time at both ends of the line in high school, but has always felt most comfortable protecting his quarterback at left tackle.

“I like the pressure knowing the quarterback is depending on me,” Murray said. “It’s his blindside. He’s not looking that way. He’s got to trust that I got his back.”

While blocking faster and stronger edge rushers than what he saw in high school has been a tough transition, Murray has also had to adjust to college life off the field. Finding time for football, class and sleep has been a struggle, but the folks at Victory Hall have made things a little easier for him. They gave him a special seven-foot bed so his legs don’t dangle off the edge.

Murray has been ducking through doors and cramming into school desks all his life, but something unexpected always seems to creep up on him. Murray said he constantly has to look out for his surroundings, especially after a recent run-in with a tree branch.

“Usually the average person would walk right under it, but it just hit me right in the face,” Murray said.

Since taking his first snaps in peewee football as a fifth grader, Murray has always set his expectations high. With the confidence of an entire coaching staff and a positive support system, Murray now has his mind set on leaving a legacy.

“When his career is over, god willing he stays healthy, I think he’s got a chance to be one of the best offensive linemen this school has ever had,” McCarney said.

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