Larrell Murchison wasn't highly-recruited as a high school standout for East Bladen High School. However, it wasn't because of his ability. He didn't focus like he needed to do in the classroom, and it caught up with him when the time came to consider his options after high school graduation.
"It was my grades," said Murchison. "I had to get my grades in order to go to a big college. I think I was good enough, but it didn't matter because of my grades."
He and his twin brother, Farrell, who played running back for East Bladen, initially signed with Winston-Salem State in 2015, but because of the academics it was off to Louisburg College in tiny Louisburg, North Carolina for both of them.
"It's good here," said Murchison, laughing. "School and football, that's about it."
Both players emerged as sophomores for the Hurricanes.
Farrell Murchison, who checks in at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, led the team in rushing and touchdowns with 947 yards and 10 scores. He remains undecided on his college plans.
Larrell was dominant defensively, totaling 41 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss, and six sacks in nine games. He earned NJCAA All-America Honorable Mention honors, leading the Hurricanes to a perfect 9-0 record.
His play led to offers from several schools, including SEC programs Ole Miss and Georgia. National power Texas eventually joined the mix, and Murchison took official visits to all three schools.
"Being able to visit them, that was a great experience," he said. "I learned a lot."
He initially committed to Ole Miss, mainly due to the connection he had with assistant coach Tray Scott, who was recruiting Murchison for North Carolina prior to leaving the Tar Heels for the Rebels.
However, the late visit to Georgia had him reconsidering his options, all the way up to signing day.
"I didn't know what I was going to do," said Murchison. "I liked all of them."
According to multiple reports, Georgia pulled Murchison's offer on Signing Day, but he didn't want to get into specifics of the situation. Instead, Murchison wanted to talk about another school that had entered the process late: NC State.
"I was talking with NC State more recently," he said. "Coach Doeren did a great job of telling me about the place, and the more I thought about it, the more I liked the opportunity. He told me they had one of the best defensive lines in the league, but he thinks I could go in and maybe make an impact."
Growing up in North Carolina, Murchison has always been familiar with the Wolfpack. He attended NC State camps while in high school and assistant coach Des Kitchings had been recruiting him since the 11th grade. After enrolling at Louisburg he attended the Wolfpack's home game against North Carolina in 2015 and the Kay Yow Spring Game in 2016.
"I was up for camps and everything," he said. "NC State's always been there... it's a great place."
Murchison now had a decision to make. He could choose between Ole Miss, a team facing potential NCAA issues, and Texas, a school he previously eliminated after taking an official visit, or wait a few days and possibly use his final two official visits at other programs who would love to get in the mix for Murchison.
Ultimately, he chose to sign with the local school... NC State.
"I was leaning towards waiting a little while and maybe taking some visits," he said. "But after talking it over with my coaches, I felt it was best to sign with NC State. I liked what they had to say about their situation and the program. I've been to the school a couple of times already, so I know what it's like.
"I'm so relieved about it. It's definitely an honor to play in my home state. It's great to be able to go to State and play in front of my family and friends."
How did the NC State coaches react when he gave them the news?
"I think they were shocked," he said, laughing. "I think they thought I was going to wait it out a little while so when I called and said I was sending in the papers, coach told me he about dropped the phone. They were definitely excited about it."
Murchison is a 6-foot-4, 280-pounder who can play defensive end or defensive tackle for the Wolfpack. He has three years to play two seasons, but the plan is to come in and compete for playing time right away.
"I need to keep working on my footwork," he said. "I think I bring speed off the ball, and I can get in the backfield almost every play."
He's now carrying a 3.3 grade point average in the classroom and is qualified academically. Murchison added that he will be back at NC State this weekend for a visit.