A former NFL All-Pro is going to coach running backs at Arizona. The UA officially hired DeMarco Murray on Friday as its new running backs coach.
Murray spent this past season as a college football analyst for Fox Sports. He retired from the NFL after the 2017 season after stints with the Dallas Cowboys (2011-14), Philadelphia Eagles (2015) and Tennessee Titans (2016-17). He rushed for 7,174 yards during a seven-year career, including a league-high 1,845 yards with the Cowboys in 2014.
Murray played his college ball at Oklahoma, where one of his recruiters and coaches was current UA head coach Kevin Sumlin. Murray began his college career at OU in 2006. Sumlin served as an assistant at Oklahoma from 2003-07, spending his final two seasons in Norman as the Sooners’ co-offensive coordinator.
During his signing-day news conference in late December, Sumlin confirmed that Murray was a candidate for the job. Although he has no prior coaching experience, Murray checks off several boxes.
Murray is young, turning 31 on Feb. 12. He played his high school ball at Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, one of the top football programs in the West in a city that’s been one of Arizona’s prime recruiting areas. He enjoyed his greatest success as a pro in Texas, which produced 40 percent of the players in Sumlin’s first signing class.
Murray will replace Clarence McKinney, who had coached running backs for Sumlin since he first became a head coach at Houston in 2008. The Houston area was McKinney’s primary recruiting territory. He left Arizona last month to become the head coach at Texas Southern.
Arizona returns a deep stable of running backs, led by third-team All-American J.J. Taylor, who rushed for 1,434 yards as a redshirt sophomore. Backup Gary Brightwell rushed for 525 yards as a true sophomore. Freshman Darrius Smith impressed in spot duty, rushing for 98 yards in four games.
No other UA staff changes are expected at this time, although that’s subject to change given the rash of recent firings in the NFL, plus some late shuffling in the college ranks.
After accumulating an OU-record 6,498 all-purpose yards, Murray became a third-round draft pick in 2011. After his All-Pro season with Dallas in 2014, Murray spent one year with the Philadelphia Eagles. He played his final two seasons with the Tennessee Titans, including a 1,287-yard, nine-touchdown campaign in 2016.