Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Redshirt freshman back ready for first college action.

Mississippi State played a quartet of running backs last fall looking for a spark in the offense. The Bulldogs had the good fortune of being able to redshirt recruited reinforcements Nick Gibson and Alec Murphy. With a year in the Bulldog offense under their belts the redshirt frosh are ready to make their own contributions to Maroon and White wins. Murphy looks back over his development year as a "Juice Boy" on the sidelines and ahead to his four years of college eligibility.

As fall camp continues there are six scholarship running backs competing for playing time and a premium spot on Coach Greg Knox's depth chart. To hear Murphy tell it, the real battle is not between veterans and rookies, but between expectations and execution.

"Things have been going good," Alec Murphy said. "Everyone has just been developing and learning the plays. We have some talented older guys that we look up to. If we have any questions, we can ask them. Aeris (Williams) is up and coming just like (Dontavian) Lee, Nick Gibson and myself. Right now, the real battle is knowing what we need to do and the best way to execute it."

Competition is healthy on a football team. Murphy reports that each and every player is competing to the best of their ability to win reps and favor with the Bulldog coaching staff, but all of the combatants are pushing each other to get better. 

Classmate and stablemate Gibson has found a friend in Murphy. The Nixa, Missouri product says that the pair have put their collective efforts together in a positive way in hopes of aiding in the learning process.

"You know, Nick is a running back too, so some might say I have to beat him out," Murphy said. "It's really the complete opposite, because we're two different kinds of backs. Right now, we're both just trying to understand the offense and find a way on to the field. We really try to help each other. If I have a question, he will try to answer it and I do the same for him to the best of my ability. If we don't know, then we will ask an older guy or a coach and then we will both know."

Murphy, known as a power back, is quick to give credit to senior back Ashton Shumpert, another physical runner. From the day Murphy arrived in Starkville, Shumpert has been there to share some words of wisdom.

"Shump has been a big part of things for me," Murphy shared. "He was my big brother last year when I was an incoming freshman. I still look up to him. I like his running style and he's smart. He knows what to do. If I ever have any questions, I can go to him or (Brandon) Holloway."

Recruited as part of a two back class with Gibson, Murphy explains that he was brought in with designs on becoming a punishing runner. During bowl practices and the spring sessions, Murphy drew some praise for plowing through would be tacklers.

"Playing at 235 pounds, the first thing that comes to my mind is not that I need to make somebody miss," Murphy said. "I will lower my head and try to get two to three more yards after contact. Coach (Knox) is always telling me to finish the run strong and get those extra yards. Honestly, it's something that just comes natural to me."

As a player who has to spend time waiting for blocks to happen and holes to open, Murphy has had an up close and personal view of the Mississippi State offensive line this fall. The personable ball carrier reports that he is seeing room to run when he takes the hand-off.

"I have seen a lot of good things," Murphy said. "We have a couple of new guys starting up front and they have some ability. I am always asking those guys if they got better today. Self-evaluation is important if you're honest with yourself. Then you get to see it on film and you go from there. I have seen some good things and they seem to be getting better everyday."

With so many ball carriers available to the Mississippi State offense, touches may be in short supply for the younger backs. Murphy is eager to take the field this fall and show Bulldog coaches and fans what he can do when his number is called.

"There is just one football and we are four or five running backs deep," Murphy said. "I am just going to keep practicing and be ready for my time. At the same time, having so many talented backs it's good for rotation. We can always have fresh guys and we can always show the defense a new look. We have a lot of backs who can do different things, so I think in our rotation, we can be deadly to a defense."

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