Raider Nation was dismayed last season to see rookie running back Latavius Murray get placed on injured reserve at the end of August 2013. Murray was the Oakland Raiders’ sixth round draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and it was frustrating to see his rookie season cut short before the regular season even began. A New York native, Murray came to the Raiders from the University of Central Florida where he totaled 2,424 rushing yards and 524 receiving yards for a total of 43 touchdowns (37 rushing and six receiving).
As a true freshman in 2008, Murray played in eight games. While he was recovering from a knee injury in 2009, he earned his redshirt. The 2012 season was his last season with UCF and he became the first player in school history to have a rushing touchdown in nine consecutive games. In the final 407 carries of his career, he did not lose a fumble. Murray actually only fumbled the ball three times throughout his 453 career carries. His 2012 season saw 15 rushing touchdowns and 1,106 rushing yards making him seventh on the single season list. He finished his career second in UCF history in overall touchdowns (44), eighth in attempts (453), sixth in yards (2,424), and third in rushing touchdowns (37).
Murray is a 6’3” 230lbs running back, definitely not fun sized like some of us in Raider Nation. He talked about his size and said, “For me, with my size, I just try to use everything I have as far as my size, take it to my advantage. My strength and my power, just try to be downhill, try to be a physical runner. I think that can only help me, playing to my strengths.” He came into the preseason last year feeling very lucky to be able to learn from the likes of Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece. Murray described it as “the luxury of having them in the running back room.” He also said last year that it was nice for him to be around the veterans as they had a lot to teach him. One can only imagine how excited he must be to have Maurice Jones-Drew in the building this year.
Last offseason, Murray had expressed how excited he was to take the field in front of Raider Nation saying, “Just the history, those fans, the Black Hole, and now, just being a part of it, it’s a great feeling knowing those fans are all on your side now. I’m ready to go out there and do my part so I can keep them in my corner.” I’m sure that Raider Nation agrees with this sentiment. With the offseason program coming to an end, fans are more excited than ever and getting even more optimistic about the coming season. With almost full participation from the Raiders despite most activities being voluntary, what’s not to get excited about?
Coming off of a rookie season where Murray didn’t see one regular season snap has got to be intimidating especially when you stack it up against the fact that he’ll be competing with McFadden and Jones-Drew. Both of these running backs are in a position where people are hoping to see a comeback. Head coach Dennis Allen talked about the pair after the first day of mandatory minicamp. He said, “When you watch them practice, you see guys that still have that explosion, guys that still have run skills, guys that can make people miss. I haven’t paid a lot of attention to what the statistics may say, I just see what I see with my eyes and I see a couple of guys that look like that if they can stay healthy, they still have the ability to perform at a high level in this league.”
It will be interesting to see how the running back position shakes out this season. I think Murray will be higher on the depth chart than most are expecting him to be come training camp. Very exciting to think about the competition that will exist at running back for the Raiders! Outside of these three, there will also be George Atkinson III, Kory Sheets, and Jeremy Stewart in the mix to battle it out at running back. Despite Jones-Drew, McFadden, and Murray having had careers peppered with injuries, it would seem all three are ready to bounce back in the 2014 season. Even just writing about this gets me really excited for training camp to start! I think Murray is going to step up this season and really show Raider Nation what he can do.