Photo by Derrick Mahone
Jay Murray, who passed for 2,381 yards the last two seasons, signed a football scholarship on Thursday to Div. III powerhouse and defending national champion Mount Union in Ohio.
RIVERDALE — When Jay Murray first tried to win the starting quarterback position at Drew, Titans coach Jarrod Laws actually had other plans for him.
“Here’s a kid that I actually tried to fire from the position,” Laws said.
Murray overcame his coach’s initial doubts to become the Titans’ starting signal-caller for the last two seasons.
On Thursday, Murray capped off his high school success by signing a letter of intent to Division III power Mount Union.
Thanks to a staunch determination to win the job —- that included a little behind the scenes bartering — Murray emerged as a player determined to prove himself as the signal caller Drew needed.
“He somehow convinced one of my assistant coaches to meet him on Saturdays to work on his passing,” Laws said. “But he wouldn’t tell me. He worked himself into a position where he couldn’t be denied. He locked it down in such a way that with his intangibles, no one else was going to lead that football team.”
Now, Laws considers Murray’s story as one of success that reverberates through the entire Drew program.
“For all of us at Drew, I think it’s huge,” he said. “I think we’re the program that proves you don’t have to always be the five-star athlete to have the opportunity to play. Our players bring their lunch pale to work every day. And with Jay, and all the obstacles that he had to overcome with helping raise his little brother, for all that he’s accomplished, I’m proud of him.”
Murray’s signing was not just an important day in the life of a young Drew program, but it was also a family milestone.
Murray lost his mother, Thalia Murray, to leukemia in March 2012. Jay Murray said he views the accomplishment as an honor to her.
“I’m happy because I’m the first person in my family to go to college,” Murray said. “To do this for my mom since I lost her, I know she’s happy up there. It sets the trend for my younger siblings coming up behind me.”
Three weeks after National Signing Day, Murray said he didn’t mind waiting to make sure everything was right.
“I just wanted to get everything together, and see the interest of the other schools,” he said. “I was also waiting on getting accepted to the school before announcing I was going there.”
Murray chose the Purple Raiders, winners of 11 Division III national championships since 1993, over Catawba, Middle Tennessee State and St. Augustine’s.
He said he felt a personal bond with the program and liked the way that they pursued him.
“Mount Union showed me the most interest,” Murray said. “They treated me like I was already playing there. It was more like a brotherhood and not a business.”
Murray led Drew to a 6-4 season in 2012 as he completed 72 of 140 passes (51 percent) and threw for 1,011 yards and 10 touchdowns. He added 412 yards rushing on 54 carries for the Titans who just missed making the playoffs by a game.
Murray said he is hoping to make an immediate impact at quarterback for the defending national champs.
Laws said he agrees.
“If he competes well, he’ll have an opportunity to play early,” Laws said. “Everything I’ve heard from the coaches up there when they’ve met with him and when he’s visited is that he’s got a grasp of a system that it sometimes takes their quarterbacks a while to learn how to run with the pace and everything.
“They said that he gets it. They kept saying he’s a guy that just gets it and everyone who encountered him came away saying they were so impressed with who he is.”