Adrian Peterson is now in his fourth season as a Minnesota Viking, and yet, it feels as though senior running back DeMarco Murray is still running in AD’s shadow.
Last Saturday night, Murray scored the 58th touchdown of his career at OU, setting a school record with at least seven more games left to play this season. The fifth-year senior has rushed for nearly 3,000 yards in 42 games as a Sooner and has another 1,200 yards receiving.
He has played an instrumental role in two Big 12 championships and is gunning to be part of a third this year. When the Sooners were without him in the 2008 national championship game against Florida, his presence was clearly missed.
He deserves mention with some of the all-time Oklahoma running backs – Peterson, Steve Owens, Billy Sims. And yet, somehow, this notion that something has been missing from Murray’s career still persists.
When he picked OU in 2006, the Las Vegas native had to have known that he was doomed to be compared to the most freakish college running back in in recent memory. Hell, watching AD tear up opposing defenses probably had a lot to do with why he chose to be a Sooner in the first place.
After struggling with an assortment of injuries in his freshman and sophomore years, Murray no longer possesses the explosiveness that made him such a big-play threat during his early time in Norman. In terms of game-to-game dominance, Murray hasn’t come close to matching Peterson.
But who has? When AD was going full-speed, he was a force of nature, one that has yet to be matched on the field since he left for the NFL.
What Murray has lacked in dominance he has more than made up for in production. He has evolved into a more complete player. He’s a far stronger runner between the tackles and has become a stellar receiver out of the backfield. He’s also a sure blocker on passing downs.
You don’t transform your game like that overnight, which should be a testament to how hard Murray has to have worked behind the scenes.
Now, Murray’s playing the wily veteran to a couple young bucks. As was the case with Murray five years ago, and Peterson before that, Brennan Clay and Roy Finch have Crimson and Cream fans buzzing about the future. A spoiled Sooner Nation – myself included – can’t wait to see what the freshmen can do in the second half of this year and next season, when they’ll have the stage to themselves.
Murray will be off learning the ropes in the NFL at that point. Maybe then we’ll realize what big shoes he left to fill.