Murray Prepares to Accept New Role

IRVING, Texas– The Sooners had one of the best one-two punches in the nation two years ago when senior running back DeMarco Murray and former OU running back Chris Brown were patrolling the backfield.

The two ran for over 1,000 yards each, combined for 34 touchdowns and helped lead the Sooners to their third-straight Big 12 title.

Murray and Brown came into the 2009 season with high expectations, but injuries to Murray and the offensive line limited the duo's production. Needless to say, Brown's final season in Norman didn't live up to the hype.

Now, Murray is without his usual complementary back and friend.

"It's weird just not having him around, not practicing with him, not going to drills with him [and] not hanging out with him," Murray said at this past week's Big 12 Media Day. "I'm excited for him. I'm excited for his future and I'm excited for mine, too."

Murray and Brown played in their final game together in last season's 31-27 victory over the Stanford Cardinal in the Brut Sun Bowl. The Sooners accumulated just 59 rushing yards in a victory during which junior wide receiver Ryan Broyles was the star, but Murray's one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter sealed the victory and sent Brown out on a high note.

Although their last game together wasn't a productive one on paper, it was fitting for them to end their on-field relationship, for at least the next year, with a bowl win.

"He's definitely missed; he's like a brother to me," Murray said. "I think he left a great mark [at Oklahoma]."

Even though Murray will be sharing carries with someone new, he is coming into the season with something he hasn't had since his sophomore year, good health. Murray limped into last season after missing spring and summer practices due to a knee injury he suffered in the 2008 Big 12 Championship Game.

And the injuries continued throughout the 2009 season, causing him to miss time and not play to his fullest potential. When Murray was healthy, he plowed over defensive backs, something he learned from Brown, and reminded people what made him so special.

More special moments are in store for Murray this season. This offseason was the first since leading up to his breakout 2008 season where he went through spring and summer practices completely healthy.

"It's definitely refreshing for me [to go through the spring and summer without injury]," Murray said. "I've been able to go through the year with just straight work, not having to take three or four months off because of injury and surgery."

If Murray wants to remain healthy throughout the entire season, he's going to need someone else to step up, give him the occasional breather and be a legitimate threat.

Younger backs like sophomore Jermie Calhoun and sophomore Jonathan Miller are fighting for the backup and complementary role, and junior Mossis Madu may be thrown into the mix even though he's the backup slot receiver. Calhoun is listed as the team's backup running back on the depth chart.

"We just need someone to step up and fill that role like Chris did last year," Murray said. "I just need that guy I can look forward to and not have to worry about when he's in there. One of those guys will step up."


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories