Jordan Murray Has Grown As A Leader Throughout His Time In Denton
DENTON — Jordan Murray’s first career start is a blur.
All the junior remembers is that it was against Rice in 2015, his freshman season, and that on every play he knew he was messing up.
The 6-foot-9 366 pound Mean Green offensive lineman was frustrated.
“I knew I was out of shape,” Murray said. “But I didn’t quite get it.
“I was the only one who’d complain,” he later added.
But when the now 325 pound offensive lineman suits up for North Texas in the 2017 season opener on Sept. 2 it won’t be a blur and he won’t be complaining, because he’s on the team’s leadership council.
“He’s absolutely earned his spot on the team’s leadership council,” said quarterback and fellow council member Quinn Shanbour. “He’s matured and it’s helped him use his size to be a great offensive tackle.”
Even after losing more than 30 pounds this offseason, Murray remains the largest returning football player in Conference USA.
But that’s not too uncommon. He’s usually the biggest person in the room.
However, what comes with his massive size are massive expectations.
“His size alone demands attention,” Shanbour said. “Guys look to him and expect him to be a leader, but I think when he was heavier it was harder.”
Shanbour explained how opposing defensive linemen were always speed rushing past him, and despite his long reach, Murray wasn’t able to stop them as often as he needed to.
The weight loss has solved that problem.
“Now he can move laterally better, and with his arm length he’s a problem for defensive linemen,” Shanbour said. “At his size, no one is going to try and bull rush him.”
But Murray’s transformation was more than just physical. Murray needed to learn to apply himself as a leader.
It began in the summer at workouts.
He used to hate rolling in the sun, running 30-yard gassers or any other disciplinary consequences. He admitted he would complain.
As he complained, Shanbour had his mouth shut and was running extra. Even when Shanbour wasn’t being disciplined, he was running with the teammates who were.
“Who does that?” Murray said. “That’s crazy.”
This past spring, as Murray entered his third year at North Texas, he was introduced to his third offensive line coach.
Murray said he’s always known the difference between right and wrong, and knew he hadn’t been doing what was right. But now as a veteran on the team and again someone the team was looking towards to lead, something clicked.
“I could feel things were changing with this program,” Murray said. “I needed to be a rock.”
When it came time to run his next gasser there were no complaints. The only thing that Murray showed was encouragement.
“Offensive linemen need to trust one another,” Shanbour said. “They need to know the man next to them is going to do their job so they can work as a unit. So for him it was critical he gained the team’s trust and through his hard work and leadership actions he’s shown he’s a guy the team can trust.”
It’s even included running with his teammates unconditionally.