(Photos courtesy of the Oakland Raiders)
Talk of Fame Network
The NFL scouting combine ended a week ago, with 332 players put through a litany of drills that could determine where … or if … they’re drafted.
Two years ago, Central Florida running back Latavius Murray wasn’t one of them … though he should have been. He rushed for over 1,100 yards in his last collegiate season, scoring 19 times (including 15 rushing), yet wasn’t invited to the combine.
No problem. The Oakland Raiders drafted him in the sixth round, and he became a starter after 12 games and a Pro Bowl choice after 31. The moral? Not getting invited to the annual scouting combine isn’t the end of the road for pro prospects. In fact, as in Murray’s case, it can be the beginning.
“My motivation came with guys that I had seen that were invited,” Murray said on the latest broadcast of the Talk of Fame Network. “Obviously, I’m going to put myself up there among the best and say that I am one of the best -- especially coming out my year, that year.
“I was very disappointed, realizing some of the guys that did go … and I knew I was better than them and that my pro day was my chance -- the only chance I had -- that those guys had prior to me. So I knew I really had to just leave it on the field because that could be my last chance to really impress the pro scouts.”
Murray made an impression all right. He ran a 4.38 40.
“I remember lining up to run my 40 because (with) anyone in my position that’s what they really wanted to see,” Murray said. “I was shaking just because I know it could go one way or the other. I was fortunate enough it went the right way for me, and I ran pretty well.
“It’s the best feeling when you can walk either away from the combine or from a pro day and be satisfied with what you put out there. I think that’s what’s most important. I was satisfied and happy with what I did out on the field.”
Now, Murray should be happy and satisfied with what’s happening again to him … and to the Oakland Raiders. He was one of seven backs last season who rushed for 1,000 yards, and the Raiders improved dramatically under first-year coach Jack Del Rio, jumping from 3-13 in 2014 to 7-9 one year later.
“He changed the culture of the building, the attitude … the whole vibe of the building changed when he got there,” Murray said of his head coach. "I think instantly we became a family. And that’s what we have built now.
“I love every man in that room. So I think we go out there and play for each other – coaches, players, the organization. I just think he was able to change the culture, and when you do that, especially with guys who maybe didn’t have it so well the previous season and didn’t have that, it makes a world of difference. It obviously showed with the change of record and just the things we were able to do.”