DeMarco Murray returning to OU
Check off one of the coaching opening at Oklahoma. Head coach Lincoln Riley announced Monday afternoon that a familiar face in DeMarco Murray will be returning to Norman to coach running backs.
Murray is OU’s career leader in all-purpose yards and career touchdowns and began his coaching career last season as Arizona’s running backs coach after a distinguished career in the NFL.
“This is very surreal," said Murray in an OU press release. "Obviously, I never thought I'd be back coaching at the place where it all started for me. Having the opportunity to come back and be among great coaches and be with some of the people I grew up with is exciting. I'm thankful for the opportunity Coach Riley is giving me and I'm looking forward to being back home.
“Football has always been a passion of mine. I've been fortunate to have had a lot of coaches and friends work with me throughout my career and give me great tools, and I feel like it's only right to give back to young student-athletes. And I love competing at a high level, so the opportunity to come back to coach was important to me.
“I think I bring the experience of playing at a high level and being in these kids' shoes not 20 or 30 years ago, but just 10 years ago. I think I bring the ability to know offense, know ball and know what it takes from a mental, physical and emotional standpoint to get to the next level.”
The spot opened up after former coach Jay Boulware left OU to becomes the tight ends and special teams coach at Texas less than two weeks ago. Murray was easily one of the first names to come to mind, but there are definitely some doubters regarding his lack of experience.
Riley identified Murray’s passion as a big reason to bring him back home to OU.
“This is a really exciting day, being able to welcome one of our program's all-time best players back to Norman,” Riley said. “DeMarco had a tremendous playing career both at OU and in the NFL and has a passion for coaching and helping young men grow as players and people. He's got an incredibly bright coaching future and will be an outstanding mentor to our players.
“I don't think there's anyone better to lead our running backs. Everyone in our program is excited to have DeMarco, his wife Heidi and their children as part of our family.”
For the second straight year, OU leans toward that Sooner experience when it comes a job opening. Nobody can relate better to recruiting OU than someone who has put on that jersey.
The Sooners have made headway with in-state prospects once again because of second-year inside linebackers coach Brian Odom’s passion and connections. Now OU is hoping to do the same with Murray when it comes to the elite of the elite at the running back position.
Only 31 years old, Murray is a name that should resonate with today’s recruits. If not for his outstanding career numbers as a Sooner, then also for his accolades earned in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans.
Murray has the OU career mark in all-purpose yards (6,718) and touchdowns scored (65). He is third with 50 rushing touchdowns and seventh in career rushing yards.
In the NFL, he was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and the 2014 NFL Offensive Player of the Year. He accumulated nearly 10,000 yards of total offense (7,174 rushing, 2,165 receiving) and 55 total touchdowns.
After his unexpected retirement following the 2017 season, Murray was a TV analyst before landing his first coaching gig with the Wildcats under familiar face in former OU assistant Kevin Sumlin.
“He's a great hire. He's the real deal,” Sumlin told SoonerScoop.com on Sunday evening. “The only problem is I think he could be in Tennessee or L.A. in a year or two (coaching in the NFL). He's that bright of a young coaching mind. And I don't mean as just a running backs coach.”
OU is a tremendous opportunity for Murray, but he spent some time reflecting back on what Sumlin has meant to his life and his career.
“Coach Sumlin gave me that first chance to coach and I appreciate everything he's done for me,” Murray said. “I've known him dating back to when I was 18 or 19 years old at OU. He's always been a great friend of mine and we stayed in constant communication after he left OU and throughout our careers. He's a great guy who always creates a fun environment for his staff and players. I appreciate him taking a chance on me and I learned a lot from him last year.”
With Murray locked up, the Sooners only have one vacant coaching position. Outside linebackers coach Ruffin McNeill announced last week he was leaving the program to take care of his father in North Carolina. That search has already been underway as well.