Sometimes the best time to judge a person’s character is when they have just fallen short of a goal. For Milford’s Brion Murray, that time was March 6th 2016, following adversity in the bowels of the Bob Carpenter center. Milford had just fallen to Stanford in the quarterfinals of the State Basketball Tournament. While he was not happy about the loss, he was not pouting either. Murray knew he had given it his all. Even after a tough loss like that, he was still able to positively reflect on the solid season the team had just completed and the effort he had given.
Murray has always had a zest for life and an infectious personality that has separated him from the rest; the man can light up a room with his charm. There is also one other trait that made him rise above others as well, drive. In four years of watching Murray compete on the basketball court and two years on the football field while a Buccaneer, Murray never took a single play off. It is one of the attributes that has made him a natural leader.
The results of his positive attitude and work ethic have earned him the opportunity to play Division I college football. Wednesday Murray committed to playing football for the Virginia Tech Hokies. While it looked for a while that his D-I destination might be Texas Tech, Virginia Tech swooped in at the last minute and stole his heart.
“I was sitting in class at seven in the morning, just trying to get going and then I got a text from coach Davidson from Virginia Tech,” Murray said. “I went from being a little tired to wide awake right away, the whole process was like a whirlwind, I can’t wait to be a Hokie.”
When his junior year at Milford rolled around his love for basketball was still burning deep inside but Murray also got the urge to return to the gridiron. During his junior and senior seasons, Murray rekindled his love of football which started back in middle school but had put aside his first two seasons at Milford.
“I looked at it honestly and I felt that my best path going forward was probably going to be on the football field,” said Murray. “My love of basketball is still there, but over the last four years I have really fallen in love with football too.”
When Murray first set foot on the practice field, coach Shaun Strickland looked him in the eye and stated, “You’re not a basketball player, you’re a football player.” At first Murray was not convinced that he belonged on the football field, but the Milford coaching staff kept after him.
“It took a lot of convincing. When they told me to go play football, I was like ‘boy, I am not playing football,’” said a laughing Murray. “But yeah, it was a lot of convincing. Coach Franklin put it in my head that going out there is a different world, and he told me that’s my chance to go play Division I.”
Once Murray decided to play however, he was all in. Over the next two seasons Murray became a force on both sides of the ball. Murray received All-Conference and All-State accolades as a football player. As his senior year came to an end, it was time for a decision.
Though he was obviously talented, Murray was raw. The combination left Murray with few options, one of which was Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. With a great deal of faith and self-belief Murray headed over 1,000 miles west to pursue his dream. While the decision was not an easy one, two and a half years later it has paid off with the opportunity to play big time college football.
“Brion had to go there to develop the skills he needed to reach the next level as an athlete. Trust me, it’s not easy to do what he did but he had a question that he needed answering and he went out and answered it,” Strickland stated. “I have had several players come to me over the years saying they wish I would have given JUCO a try. Brion had the guts to do it. That is the type of character he has. One thing he knows for sure now, just like I told him that first day on the field, he is a football player”
Murray was red-shirted his first year at Coffeyville which offered him some insight into self-realization as well as some light hearted moments. “If you’re really honest with yourself and you feel you’re not ready — because I wasn’t ready — the redshirt process is good for you because it makes you ready,” he explained. “I had an opportunity to really hone my skills and work on my technique and everything, as well as excel in the weight room.”
Murray’s biggest fan is his mother, Ladonna Murray. She understood the sacrifice that Brion was making when he headed out to Coffeyville, but understood it was the right decision. “I was so worried about him being so far away from home but at the same time I understood that this is what he needed to do. It doesn’t mean I was happy about it,” she said. “The fact that he is going to be closer to home now is just wonderful. I’m going to have a chance to see him so much more and we are really looking forward to it.”
When asking Murray about how far he has come and the thought of running onto the field in front of one of the most electric home crowds in college football in Blacksburg Virginia, he said he cannot wait. “There is still a lot of work to do but I’m going to earn my way on that field,” Murray stated. “The thought of running on the field in front of that crowd is what is driving me now. I love this game more and more each day.”
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