Army's Murray: from bench warmer to starter

He wasn't the biggest player on the team, but he was one of the toughest. Real physical and intense. That's why Mason County High School (Ky.) football coach David Buchanan played the kid with the tailback's body at fullback. Jordan Murray thrived in the role and always got the job done.

"Anything you ask of him he would do it," Buchanan says of Jordan Murray. "He worked so hard. Jordan is a West Point kind of guy."

Murray could evolve into one of the faces of Army's resurgent defense. In the span of only a few months, Murray's gone from bench warmer to starting free safety.

He didn't appear in one game last season. Still, Army coach Bobby Ross expects him to be a difference maker this fall.

Murray's big opportunity came this spring when starter Randy Chasten was sidelined with a knee injury. He served as one of the standouts during drills with his speed and hard hits. Murray, a junior, was selected as one of the defensive co-winners of the most improved award.

Pair Murray with junior strong safety Caleb Campbell and you have a pretty menacing combination. Campbell, tough and hard-hitting, led the Black Knights with 97 tackles last year. He had five interceptions and is one of 42 players named to the preseason Ronnie Lott "watch list", given to the nation's top defensive player.

Murray, who is 6-foot, 200 pounds, split time at fullback and linebacker at Mason County High. He led the team in tackles each of his last two years and helped Mason County to a pair of district and regional championships. Murray's teammates included quarterback Dustin Grutza, who started for the University of Cincinnati as a redshirt freshman last year.

"Jordan got looks from the University of Kentucky and some other schools, but no scholarship offers," Buchanan says. "I think a lot of schools missed out. He runs and hits so well."

That's what could make Murray shine at Army. He has above-average speed and can lay the wood. Add that to a defense that jumped from 117th to 37th in the national rankings last year and you have something special to watch.

Of course, Buchanan plans on watching every Army game that's on television this fall.

"Jordan is just such an intelligent player," Buchanan says. "He is always at the right place at the right time and helps to make sure his teammates are at the right place at the right time."


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