LARAMIE – When CJ Coldon was lost for the season after week two, his reps increased.
When Antonio Hull returned to California to deal with a personal matter, he buried himself in the playbook.
When Tyler Hall sustained a concussion after taking a nasty blow to the head in Tulsa, the clock started ticking.
Jordan Murry – all 155 pounds of him – started the season sixth on the depth chart at cornerback. That Saturday night against UNLV, the true freshman and wide receiver turned defensive back, was lined up across from USC transfer, Randal Grimes. He’s 6-feet, 4-inches and weighs in at 205 pounds.
Murry stands just 5 foot, 10 inches.
“Heck yeah I was nervous,” Murry joked. “I knew I would be targeted right away.”
He said he didn't get comfortable until the second quarter.
Not just that, he found himself looking around War Memorial Stadium. He called it a surreal scene. Murry had never played in front of that many people before. The stands appeared to go on for miles. The noise, he said, was deafening.
He whiffed on his first assignment, too. It wasn’t obvious to anyone but him and his position coach, but he said the butterflies were fluttering.
Fellow corner Azizi Hearn said Murry has a swagger about him. Though small in stature, Murry just has that “it factor,” according to the Arizona transfer. He isn’t cocky, but confident. His fun-loving, hard-working personality stands out. Hearn said he wasn’t worried about Murry getting the start in place of Hall.
He might have been the only one who wasn’t.
“I played a bit against Tulsa, but playing in front of people you know, and the stands were full, it felt like all eyes were on me,” Murry said. “I’m out there filling in for an impact player like Tyler. Those are big shoes to fill, plus it was the first conference game.”
Murry said he also thought about his size, especially after
a UNLV tight end drove him into the turf early in the first quarter. He told
Murry he was too small and didn’t belong on the field.
After that vicious hit, Murry wondered that himself.
Then came the insults from Grimes.
Murry said he expected Hearn to “shadow” the big receiver.
Instead, he lined up across from Murry.
“I thought to myself, 'he’s just another dude,'” Murry said. “'He puts his pants on the same way I do.' I feel like I’m a great player and can play with anyone. He was talking about how small I was. I was thinking, ‘I’m a player, too. I’m here for a reason, too.’”
During the second quarter of the Cowboys 53-17 rout of the
Rebels, Murry made his mark. It was loud. And impactful.
Charles Williams, the Mountain West’s leading rusher, who was averaging nearly 9.2 yards per carry through four games, came busting around the left edge. He shook a pair of tacklers before a brown-and-gold flash came out of nowhere.
It was Murry.
He flew into Williams’ thigh pad, sending the 5-foot, 9-inch,
190-pound junior head over heels into the Wyoming bench.
Murry jumped up to his feet, clinched his fist and let out a
“I don’t talk much on the field, I usually let my game talk for me,” Murry said with a grin. “When I got the hit it was like me saying ‘who you calling small?'
"The talk stopped after that."
Williams attempted to get to his feet before falling back to the turf. He couldn’t put any weight on his right leg as he was assisted to the UNLV sideline. Williams didn't play another snap. The injury was deemed a "bruised knee."
“I didn’t know I was going to injure him, I just got really
excited,” he said. “When he was down, I felt really bad.
“But, after that hit, I knew I belonged on the field.”
Murry finished third on the team with five tackles in that win. The Wyoming secondary had its best day of the season, too, holding the Rebels to just 263 yards on 22 catches. Most of that came with the lopsided scoreboard.
Head coach Craig Bohl gave Murry credit for the effort. So did senior captain Logan Wilson.
During his postgame press conference, Wilson compared Murry
to another cornerback – Tyler Hall.
“That’s a tough spot,” Wilson said of Murry filling in for Hall. “I was talking to Cassh (Maluia) about this earlier, he reminds me a lot of Tyler Hall when he got thrown into the fire his true freshman year … He’s got confidence and a little bit of swagger to him. You can’t really teach that.
“He’s a hard-working kid. For him to step in and be a corner
for us on a day like today when we are dwindled at that position is huge.”
For Murry, that compliment means everything. He watches Hall
in practice, studying his every move. He raved about his footwork and
He talked about Hall’s stature. It’s a lot like his.
“That’s big for me,” he said of being compared to Hall. “He is
one hell of a player and one hell of an athlete. To come in and resemble
something like him, that’s pretty big for me.
“I hope to be close to as good as he is one day.”
Murry was a popular guy Monday afternoon in Laramie. Every reporter wanted to talk to this unknown, first-year guy from Riverside, Calif., that literally burst on the scene and completely changed the tune of the UNLV outing with one violent hit.
Murry was all smiles.
He shook hands, thanked everyone for their time and even
showed his humble nature.
Coming off a game like that, one would think Murry’s
confidence is at an all-time high. It is. But he also knows that his work is
far from over.
He even said he wouldn’t mind salvaging his redshirt, which
means playing less than four games so he can once again be considered a
freshman next season.
“No, I would not mind at all,” he said.
“I just started playing the position,” he continued. “These
coaches have done a great job with me. Now, I feel like I can be an even better
player with more time and waiting for my time.”
When the season began, Murry was behind Caleb Roberson, Hearn, Coldon, Hull and Hall on the depth chart. Now, with Hull no longer with the program, he might not get his redshirt wish.
Either way, Murry says he is ready.
In fact, he’s so ready that when asked if he slept a wink the night before the UNLV game, he offered up this:
“Oh, amazing. Like a baby,” he joked. “I was excited to
play. I haven’t started since high school. It was big for me … Now, I have hope
at a big future.”
Yes, he does.