Photo by Derrick Mahone
Drew quarterback Jay Murray has paid tribute to his late mother, Thalia Murray, with a tattoo of her name on his right shoulder. The elder Murray died in March after a battle with leukemia.
As a first-year starting quarterback last season, Jay Murray had the benefit of being surrounded by a talented, experienced and speedy supporting cast of receivers and running backs.
With several of his main targets gone this season, Murray realizes that he must be a big playmaker if the Titans are to make another run at the playoffs.
“Now, my teammates will depend on me to put the ball where it is supposed to be,” Murray said. “I’ve got to be the guy that makes them look good. This is a chance to prove myself.”
Last season, Murray was sort of thrown into the starting position after two-year starter Barry Mayes decided to give up football to concentrate on basketball full-time. Murray won the job by default.
But once the season got underway, he proved that he was the right choice. In leading the Titans to a 7-4 record, and their first playoff appearance in school history, Murray passed for 1,370 yards while rushing for 226 yards. He accounted for 16 touchdowns.
Drew coach Jarrett Laws is looking for bigger things from his quarterback this season.
“His confidence level is through the roof,” Laws said. “We have gone from calling plays for him, into giving him a concept to make his own calls. There is a big trust factor we have in Jay.”
And the rising senior has some added motivation this season.
In addition to proving that he is ready to become a leader of a playoff contender, Murray wants to fulfill the dream of his late mother, Thalia Murray.
She always wanted her son to earn a college scholarship.
As Jay was getting settled in as the starting quarterback at Drew last season, his mother didn’t want any distractions to keep him from succeeding. She never revealed to him that she was diagnosed with leukemia.
In March, she lost her battle with cancer.
But it was obvious to Laws that her spirit still lives within her middle child.
“The day after she passed, I was shocked he came into my office, ready to get started with offseason,” Laws said. “His mother was the one that was always encouraging him. He told me it was what his mother wanted for him.”
And Jay Murray, who has a tattoo of his mother’s name in a heart on his right shoulder, always wanted to be the starting quarterback at Drew.
Even as the Titans coaching staff switched him to receiver in anticipation for Mayes to be the starter, Murray wouldn’t give up his desire.
He talked an assistant coach into meeting him at the school every Saturday during the offseason to work on his passing skills and footwork.
“I had no idea this was going on,” Laws said. “Looking back at how everything unfolded, this was a good move on his part. He stepped in prepared to lead us after Barry left.”
Murray is even more determined this season.
He added 15 pounds of muscle during the offseason.
Because of the added bulk, Laws said Murray will get an opportunity to run the football more this season.
Becoming more of a dual threat will likely make Murray more marketable to colleges that run the spread offense.
“I’m working on getting better,” said Murray, who also threw 10 interceptions last season. “I know that I’m not the perfect player. I’m working every day on things to get better.”
He has attracted the attention of some college coaches. Murray will attend senior showcase camps at Southern University and Appalachian State later this week.
“I think his first offer is about to come,” Laws said. “People are starting to take notice of Jay.”