On New Year’s Eve of last year, Brion Murray was doing something most former high school players dream about. He was playing in a college bowl game, more specifically, the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. Murray wasn’t just playing, he was starting as a defensive back. With the Hokies thin at defensive back, the first start of his FBS career came on a rather large stage. “I was pretty excited about it going in. I may have been a little nervous the first couple of plays, but once I settled down, I thought I did OK,” Murray said. “I may not have been perfect, but I thought I played decent.”
Murray faced a difficult task against a run-heavy Kentucky team, which ran for an astounding 331 yards against Virginia Tech in a 37-30 loss to the Wildcats. “Of course, you don’t like to lose any game you play, but that one really hurt,” Murray added. “It was a tough day for us, but it’s one of those things as player that you can use to motivate yourself. You look at the tape and say, I could have done this better here or there, then you turn it into a positive and you play better next time.”
During the game, Murray had a total of six tackles – two solos, as well as a key interception which he returned 37 yards and gave the Hokies a chance to salt the game away with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game. Murray was playing soft coverage on his man and his initial reaction when he saw the ball in the air was disbelief. “I saw him (Kentucky quarterback Lynn Bowden) let it go and I couldn’t believe he did it. The ball was actually thrown so far I almost had too much time to think about it,” Murray said. “I gathered it in and headed the other way, it was a great feeling. I would have rather gotten the win, but it was a pretty exciting moment.”
Murray didn’t just land on an FBS team the quality of Virginia Tech by accident, it was a long hard road that a great many people, even himself didn’t see coming. In the fall of 2015 at Milford High School, the then junior Murray, thought it might be fun to play a little football. Although he had played a little in middle school, he had concentrated and started for the Buccaneers basketball team since his freshman year. “I just thought it would be a fun thing to try. I really didn’t think that much about it,” he said.
During his senior season, it became very clear that Murray had solid instincts as a football player, what he didn’t have was polish. It was at that point Murray had to make a decision, play JUCO ball or give up on what had now become his passion. Choosing the former, Murray landed in Kansas, plying his trade at Coffeyville Community College. Being so far away from home was difficult for Murray, who would redshirt his first year, but all the effort would pay off in the long run. “Landing in Kansas wasn’t the easiest of things, but I knew that if I worked hard it would pay off,” he said.
Murray got his chance in his second year at Coffeyville and made the most of it. Showcasing his skills, he was offered a football scholarship to Virginia Tech for the 2018 season. Spending most of his time on special teams, Murray began to see more time on defense as the season progressed. Working his way up the depth chart in 2019, it culminated in the Belk Bowl start. Speaking with his former coach Shaun Strickland, it was something he saw coming a mile away “He (Murray) is so eager to learn, so eager to work, there was no way he was not going to improve. The more he learns, the more he wants to learn, that’s what make him such a good football player and an even better person.”
With the fall football season in doubt, that hasn’t kept Murray from doing his work at home in the hopes that he will be improved, whenever he gets back on the field. “All I can do is work, I can’t control the health situation, but I can control what I do to get ready for next year. Whenever that may come to pass.”
Murray is studying Communications and Sport’s Analytics, with an eye towards broadcasting or some other type of media work in the future.