At Central Florida, running back Latavius Murray excelled as both a ballcarrier and receiver. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
At Central Florida, Latavius Murray was an extremely productive running back who often played best in the biggest games.
In his senior season, Murray was a first-team all-Conference USA pick. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards, scored a touchdown in nine straight games and had 22 catches out of the backfield for 231 yards and four TDs. All told, he scored 19 TDs his senior season.
The 6-foot-3, 223-pounder averaged 5.4 yards per carry in his college career.
The Raiders took him with a sixth-round pick in the recent NFL draft, with the hope he can not only challenge Rashad Jennings for the role as Darren McFadden’s primary backup, but also provide the 1-2 punch the running game has missed since Michael Bush left in free agency after the 2011 season.
In his Raiders debut at this past weekend’s rookie minicamp, Murray certainly made a good impression as both a runner and receiver.
Reporter Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group noted that Murray looked like “a well-rounded player, and one that appears to have everything a team covets.”
As a big, tall running back, Corkran also noted he looked a bit like former NFL star running back Eric Dickerson when he broke into the secondary.
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen was pleased by what he saw, especially in the passing game.
“He runs nice routes, he’s extremely intelligent, so he’s picked up the offense really well, and he’s got really soft hands so he does a nice job not only catching the ball,” Allen told reporters. “But when you look at it, he’s done a nice job picking up in pass protection.”
Murray says that coming from a pro-style offense at Central Florida should have him set up to succeed as both a runner and receiver with the Raiders. His receiving ability could pave the way for him to be used in third-down or passing situations. In his college career, he had 50 catches for six TDs.
“I just know that’s a kind of bonus that I bring to the table, a strength of mine,” Murray said of his route-running and receiving skills. “I just got to make sure that I just go out there and make sure it’s something I’m comfortable with doing, which it is, and just bring it to the field every day.”
As a runner, Murray says, “I just try to run downhill, get tough yards with my size and when it’s time to get outside, use my speed.”
There also is this: He ended his college career with 407 consecutive carries without a fumble, and fumbled only once in four years.
Murray says he’s excited and eager to show what he can do in the NFL.
When Murray was taken by the Raiders in the sixth round, he knew his life was about to change.
“As soon as my name popped up (on TV), my phone just started ringing,” Murray told a newspaper in upstate New York, where he grew up. “My mom, she cried for like an hour straight, I think. It was great to put a smile on her face.”
Murray originally had been considered a fringe draft prospect, and did not earn an invitation to the NFL Combine. But at the Central Florida pro day for NFL scouts, he ran a 4.45-second 40-yard dash to raise his stock. Though he missed three games as a senior because of injuries, his 1,106 yards rushing ranks No. 7 on the school’s list of single-season yardage totals.