Murray Makes History With Pledge

Najee Murray will go down in history as more than just the ninth verbal member of Ohio State's class of 2012. The product of Steubenville, Ohio, is the first player to both land and accept a scholarship offer from interim OSU head coach Luke Fickell.

Najee Murray is the first player to both land and accept a scholarship offer from Ohio State interim head coach Luke Fickell. About 24 hours after doing so, the defensive back from Stubenville, Ohio, said he had been made quite aware of that fact.

"Yes, a lot of people have pointed that out so far," he told BSB on Monday night. "It's quite an honor. I was real excited. I'm kind of speechless about it. It's nice being the first commit under a new head coach. That's a neat connection."

Although it was Fickell who provided Murray the opportunity to join the fold, the groundwork had been laid by previous head coach Jim Tressel. A 5-11, 172-pound prospect, Murray first began camping with the Buckeyes at the tail end of his freshman season.

Steubenville head coach Reno Saccoccia said Murray immediately caught the eye of OSU defensive coordinator Jim Heacock and that the attention continued to grow with each camp appearance.

"The internet opens a lot of doors for kids, but once he got to the camp (Sunday) and they saw him in person that's what sold Ohio State," the coach said. "The internet can open the doors but the kid has to prove it on the field and I think that he did a real good job. After talking to Coach Heacock, he did an excellent job at the camp and they're really high on him."

Sunday, Murray drove home having been named the most valuable player among defensive backs at the camp. Once he arrived at his house, Murray said he placed a phone call to OSU quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano.

"He told me Coach Fickell had wanted to talk to me because he didn't get to talk to me before I left," Murray said. "I ended up calling him and Coach Fickell broke the news to me and in a matter of seconds I ended up committing to Ohio State.

"He sounded like he really was excited because he started talking about how he played with people from Big Red in college. He said it's another Big Red guy playing at Ohio State."

Saccoccia said the fact that the Buckeyes are facing potential NCAA sanctions had no bearing on Murray's decision.

"If the situation were more than two years, maybe, but if something happened for this year's team he's a senior and if something happened the following year then he's a redshirt freshman so he's still going to have four years," the coach said. "Ohio State is Ohio State."

However, Murray said he was concerned that an offer would not be coming from the Buckeyes after Tressel resigned as head coach May 30.

"Once that happened I thought I was just going to camp to go to camp," he said. "I didn't think they would offer or evaluate because of what had just happened. I thought it was just a hard time right now."

Scout.com rates Murray a three-star safety prospect and the No. 48 overall prospect from Ohio. Saccoccia said Murray lines up at strong safety in his team's cover-4 defense but that Murray projects as a cornerback at the next level.

"I was a little surprised about (the offer) because most of my film is at safety and going into camp I didn't know how good I'd be at cornerback," he said. "I actually did a great job. Frank (Epitropoulos) and I went against each other and I was 4 for 4 against him. He didn't catch a pass."

Saccoccia also classified him as an athlete on offense, pointing out that the team will be expecting big things from Murray this fall.

"Well, if he's an Ohio State player he'd better be a two-way player for us," the coach said. "That's what I told him. I said, ‘this isn't going to be easy on you. Now you're never coming off the field because you're Ohio State so you'd better stay on the field for 48 minutes.' "

One day after committing to the program, Murray said he watched a recording of Fickell's inaugural press conference as the program's interim leader.

"Luke's a nice guy," he said. "He looks like he's ready for a change."


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