OSU football: Cameron Murray has grown into ‘a force to be reckoned with’ on Cowboys’ defensive line
During a football season constantly evolving because of schedule rearrangements and other COVID-19 precautions, Cameron Murray reminds himself of the advice that keeps him grounded and steady.
Take one day at a time.
Murray, a redshirt senior defensive tackle on the Oklahoma State football team, said his coaches consistently share this message with him, and he echoes their words when he talks to his teammates. The simple but impactful phrase guided Murray through the No. 6 Cowboys’ 20-day break between games, a pause that happened when their matchup against Baylor was moved to the end of the season because of the Bears’ COVID cases.
“You really can’t look at the future,” Murray said. “You just gotta take that day and compete in that day and just move on to the next one, so that’s the main thing is staying focused.”
He and the Cowboys returned from their hiatus to claim a critical 24-21 victory against Iowa State last weekend, going 4-0 for the first time in Murray’s career. They will strive to keep up this momentum and preserve their undefeated record when they face Texas (3-2 overall, 2-2 Big 12) at 3 p.m. Saturday in Stillwater.
With an even-keeled attitude and a 300-pound disruptive presence at the line of scrimmage, Murray has helped OSU rise to the top of a conference that isn’t typically heralded for its defense. Although the Cowboys’ highlights don’t frequently center on Murray, he often has a key role in setting up big plays — and preventing opponents from making them.
Malcolm Rodriguez, an OSU senior linebacker, has noticed how Murray’s skills take pressure off his teammates.
“He’s making the linebackers’ job real easy, beating those offensive line guys up up there and making our job easier,” Rodriguez said. “So he’s definitely a force to be reckoned with.”
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Murray’s stat line includes 13 tackles, six solo stops, 2.5 tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries and one sack. During the Cowboys’ second game of the season, he had a moment in the spotlight when he sacked West Virginia quarterback Jarret Doege, pushing the Mountaineers back five yards late in the fourth quarter and joining Calvin Bundage for a quarterback hurry on the next play.
But Murray doesn’t need to be the center of attention to make an impact.
OSU honored him with the Barry Sanders Award for “most contribution with the least recognition” at the end of his redshirt junior season. Murray, who started every game, led the D-line with 30 tackles.
It hasn’t always been easy for him to live up to his expectations and play with consistency.
“Early on in my career, I feel like I started off kind of slow, not like I wanted,” Murray said. “But to now, it’s just trusting the process every day and coming back to work every day.”
Murray redshirted after the Cowboys recruited him out of Bryant High School in Arkansas, and then he played one season for former defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer before Jim Knowles’ inaugural year at OSU.
Since then, Murray and the defensive unit have grown.
OSU’s total defense ranks 19th in the country, and the Cowboys are tied with Air Force at No. 8 in scoring defense, giving up an average of only 12 points per game.
The Cowboys’ faith in Knowles has increased, Murray said, and the defensive players have developed bonds on and off the field, enjoying activities such as playing video games and cards.
Although Rodriguez has plenty of confidence in Murray’s tackling abilities, Rodriguez didn’t offer as much praise for his teammate’s video game skills.
“He’s all right,” Rodriguez said, grinning. “He’s not the best on the team. I’m the best.”
Despite the friendly jabs and moments of braggadocio — Murray disputed Rodriguez’s claim and declared himself a better gamer — they exchanged laughs, providing evidence of the close friendships Murray mentioned. Rodriguez referred to Murray as “chill,” and his easygoing nature defines his senior leadership style in the midst of a constantly unpredictable season.
Murray’s day-by-day mindset helped him overcome discouragement during his early years as a Cowboy, and he doesn’t forget it now that the defense is improving.
“Everything don’t start off the way you want it,” Murray said. “But just keep going, and you’ll be able to get what you want.”