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Defensive Backing

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A.D. Unscripted

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OU Scrimmage Report

Joey Halzle Q&A

Gray, OU prep for The Dance

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Future Considerations

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Michael Neal Q&A

Recruiting: Dominique Franks Q&A

Strong Willed

Football Recruiting Notes

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Enough Gloom & Doom

Back In Business

Endowed Scholarships Announced

USC or Texas: The Lesser of Two Evils?

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Kelvin Sampson Q&A

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Boomer Bio: Allen Patrick

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OU vs. Tech Matchups

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OU vs. A&M matchups

OU Coaches’ Roundtable

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Boomer Bio: Juaquin Iglesias

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Sooners top Baylor

OU vs. Baylor Matchups

Recruiting: Offensive Line

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Sooners top Jayhawks

OU vs. Kansas Matchups

Boomer Bio

A Pleasant Conversation

Texas tops Oklahoma

Red River Rivarly Matchups

Dusty Dvoracek: In The Trenches

Sooners Roll Past K-State

OU vs. K-State Matchups

Recruiting: Replenishing The Backfield

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Recruiting Demarco Murray

C.J. Ah You Q&A

The Answers: OU vs. Tulsa

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Bob Stoops' take on TCU loss

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Clint Ingram Q&A

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Soon to be Sooners

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Q and A

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OU's Kim wins Big 12 Golf Title

White and Vermeil talk about first day of rookie camp

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Red Rallies to Down White

Big crowd expected

Prelude To Greatness?

Breaking Down The Offense

Spring football eases pain




Week Two On Newsstands NOW!
Recruiting Demarco Murray
OU eyeing top prospect from Las Vegas

When Oklahoma hits the field in 2006, the Sooners will do so with a depth chart that doesn’t paint a pretty picture at running back. It may be hard to believe, but Adrian Peterson and Jacob Gutierrez will be the lone returning scholarship backs to begin the season.

As much exposure and notoriety as Peterson has brought to OU’s program, he has made it harder for running backs coach Cale Gundy to collect much quality depth at that position. The Sooners have seen highly recruited players like Tashard Choice and Courtney Tennial transfer after realizing Peterson’s rise to national acclaim created a bleak forecast for competing running backs in the system.

D.J. Wolfe, another promising backup who was simply too talented to sit behind Peterson, is now making an impact in the defensive secondary. Peterson’s emergence also chased away top recruiting prospects a year ago, and his highly publicized feats cast a large shadow over the college football landscape, and an even bigger shadow over the recruiting world.

Having one of the best freshman running backs in the history of college football hasn’t been good for the recruiting business at Oklahoma, at least in the immediate past.

But the Sooners can see the light at the end of the tunnel as the 2006 recruiting class begins to take shape. Peterson is a good bet to enter the NFL after his junior season, meaning running backs across the country are starting to see a future at Oklahoma once again.

One such player is Demarco Murray, a 6-foot, 183-pound, five-star running back from Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School.

Murray, the nation’s top-rated all-purpose running back according to Rivals.com, appears to fit nicely into Oklahoma’s offense, with or without Adrian Peterson. He is a multi-talented back capable of running and catching the football with equal effectiveness.

A dangerous combination of speed and agility, Murray was clocked at 4.37 in the 40 this summer at USC, and he’s even drawing comparisons to another highly publicized running back from that school.

“Demarco is as close to a Reggie Bush-type player that you’re going to find in this year’s class,” said Rivals.com’s Jeremy Crabtree. “Not only can he run between the tackles successfully, he can take it to the outside and he can hurt you in a number of different ways. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. You can line him up at receiver. He hurts you a number of different ways.”

Recruiters are salivating over Murray’s versatility. Several schools, including Oklahoma, have floated the notion of moving him all over the field.

“(Oklahoma’s) talking about putting me on the field at the same time as Adrian,” said Murray. “Whether it’s in the slot or back in the backfield. I can play receiver as well as running back. I know I’ll play as a slot receiver wherever I go.”

And therein lies the comparison to Bush. The similarities discussed flatter the talented back.

“I think it’s overwhelming,” Murray said of the analogies. “He’s a great athlete with great speed and his cuts are amazing. I just think it’s amazing when people mention me and him together. I think I can do some of the same things he does. If I work hard I think I can even be better.”

As for the Peterson factor, Murray says his decision won’t be altered because of his presence. In fact, he has talked with Peterson on a couple of different occasions. And he believes working with Peterson can only make him a better player.

“I don’t even look at the competition and stuff like that,” said Murray. “I just know I have to work hard and prove to the coaches what I’m capable of doing. All I ask for is an opportunity to play as a freshman. He’s not scaring me away; Reggie Bush isn’t scaring me away. I’m not trying to be conceited or anything like that. I’m just not afraid of competition.”

Oklahoma is squarely in the mix, but the pride of Las Vegas is showing his poker face to the recruiting world.

“Really, my top five or top six are OU, Florida, USC, Michigan, Texas A&M and Miami. Those are my main ones at this point,” said Murray.

And another team has entered the mix in the last two weeks. Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina team has also become a contender for Murray’s services.

One factor in Oklahoma’s favor is its familiarity with the Vegas product. His high school coach, David White, was in Norman this summer working OU’s high school camps as part of the staff. Murray made the trip as well. He spent plenty of time in Norman learning the ins-and-outs of the Sooner program.

“I like the work ethic they have down there,” said Murray. “Coach (Jerry) Schmidt — I got a chance to talk to him a little bit and I got a chance to see how hard he works and gets after it. They helped me with my work ethic and my leadership skills.”

Oklahoma is also the home of Murray’s former teammate at Bishop Gorman, All-America true freshman Ryan Reynolds.

“I’d love to play with Ryan. He’s a great friend of mine and like a big brother,” Murray confessed.

But Murray also says his relationship with Reynolds won’t play a big role in swaying him toward the Sooners.

“He doesn’t pressure me to commit to Oklahoma or anything like that. Sometimes he says he’d like for me to play with him, but he realizes it’s a big decision that I have to make for myself,” he said. “In a way, it does (play a factor), but it’s not a deciding factor. It’s not something I’ll make a decision on.”

What will play a big factor in his final decision to attend a school is his relationship with college coaches. The Sooners have built a great relationship with the Bishop Gorman program over the years. It started with Reynolds, but Murray caught their eye very early on.

And OU coaches have worked to cultivate that relationship over the years.

“I’ve gained a close relationship with Coach Gundy, Coach (Bob) Stoops and Coach (Brent) Venables,” Murray said. “Ever since I was a sophomore I’ve been talking to those guys and built a great relationship with them.

“I’ve always said from day one that relationships are going to be one of the biggest factors wherever I go. That’s pretty much why I like Oklahoma. I respect the coaches a lot. I just like how they treat the players and how they coach the game.”

The summer camps in Norman, the relationship with Ryan Reynolds and the comfort level with the Oklahoma staff appear to give the Sooners a leg up on the competition. But Murray isn’t willing to name any leaders at this point.

He insists he also feels great about his relationships with Florida, USC and Texas A&M. And rumors continue to persist that Murray is more enamored with USC and Miami, above all others.

“That’s not it at all,” said Murray concerning those rumors. “I don’t know where people get their information from sometimes. Everyone is on the same page right now and I’m not sure what to say about those rumors.”

Murray also says he hears the rumors of loving the big city life. It’s said Norman is too small for someone from Sin City.

“Yeah, I guess you can say that,” offered Murray when asked if he was a big city guy.

But Murray also wanted to go on record to say he discounts the rumors about Norman being too small.

“I don’t really see that as a factor,” he said. “I don’t want to go anywhere where there’s too much to do to get myself in trouble. Big city, small city, it really doesn’t matter. I want to go somewhere where I can have fun and experience new things. I’m not just looking for someplace to go for fun. I want to play football and get a good education.”

Murray says he’ll plan two visits during his senior season and save the rest of his official visits until his senior season is complete.

As Murray puts it, “I don’t want to get too overwhelmed because our team is chasing a state championship.”

With so many visits happening after his senior season, it appears Murray’s decision will come down to the wire. And with all the rumors of USC and Miami, Murray admits he grew up with Florida as his childhood favorite.

That fixation is understandable as Bishop Gorman’s uniforms are almost a perfect replica of the Gators’.

“I just think I have a lot more things to look at with each school,” Murray said. “I want to see how they do this year. I just have to make a great decision. I’m going to spend the next four years of my life at this school with these players and coaches. This is one of the biggest and most important decisions of my life so I’m gonna take all the time I have to make the right one.”

Until then, Las Vegas’ Murray will continue to wear his poker face. Right now, he seems poised for the World Series of Poker, because even with so many factors leaning in OU’s direction, no one’s been able to get a read on the where the nation’s top all-purpose running back is going to go.

(Editor's Note: Sooner Spectator features recruiting articles like this one in each of its weekly issues during the football season.)