Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.

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Murray has been standout at corner for Gophers

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: November 24, 2013 - 5:07 PM

Jerry Kill was hired as the Gophers football coach on Dec. 6, 2010. That meant Kill got to the party late to sign recruits in February 201l. The first full recruiting class for Kill and his staff came in 2012. They signed a large group of 27 players that February.

The ESPN recruting analysts gave four stars to offensive lineman Isaac Hayes and receivers James Harbison and Andre McDonald. They gave no rating to 10 players, including Eric Murray, a 5-foot-11, 175-pounder listed as an "ahtlete'' out of Riverside University High School in Milwaukee.

Hayes was redshirted as a freshman. He wasn't on the two-deep this season until right guard Caleb Bak went out of the lineup with a concussion. On Saturday, Hayes was listed as the backup to Foster Bush and did not get in the game. Hayes has yet to play a down for the Gophers.

McDonald played some as a freshman. His status with Kill's program is vague, but he's not on the team for now. Harbison was injured last season. He's had unspecified issues this season, was out of uniform for a couple of games, and basically has been used on special teams.

Murray? If the people voting for postseason honors are paying attention, the sophomore will be at least a second-teamer at cornerback for the all-Big Ten team.

Adam Rittenberg, one of the Big Ten football bloggers for, gave considerable attention to Murray last week in the run-up to Saturday's game with Wisconsin.

Jay Sawvel, the Gophers' defensive backfield coach, told Rittenberg: "Our staff, we think Darqueze Dennard [Michigan State] is the best corner in this conference. I know Bradley Roby [Ohio State] gets a lot of publicity, and we think he's really good, too. But outside of those two, we wouldn't trade Eric for anybody in the conference.''

Murray was out of view to top-division recruiters after his junior season. His high school coach arranged to have Eric participate in three the spring/summer camps that colleges now have for junior recruits: at Central Michigan, Northern Illinois and Minnesota.

The Gophers looked at Murray primarily as a receiver at a mid-June camp. He was invited back the next week for a second camp, because Kill wanted to see if he had potential as a cornerback. The answer was yes, the Gophers made a verbal offer for a scholarship, and Murray immediately announced he was committing to Minnesota.

Murray got most of his work on special teams as a freshman. This season, he moved into the starting lineup at corner and has been a revelation.

Senior tackle Ra'Shede Hageman has some monstrous moments and he's going to be in the top 50 of the NFL Draft.

When the Gophers announce their postseason awards, politics will dictate that Hageman is named the top defensive player. For the assignments he's been given, to go one-on-one with star receivers, and for his role in making this a secondary that's competitive rather than porous, Murray is as worthy a defender for that award.

All that Murray is missing this season is an interception. He has 44 tackles, nine pass breakups and a fumble recovery at the start of the Penn State game. On Saturday, his toughness was visible. He was on punt coverage, took a blow and was on all fours on the middle of the field, vomiting. He was back on defense within a couple of plays.

Murray fits the profile of this Gophers' team. When Bak and receiver Derek Engel were in the lineup, the two-deep for this team included 31 of 44 players who were not made an offer from another school in a BCS conference.


Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 FINAL
Minnesota 3
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 105
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Orlando 100
Cleveland 120 FINAL
Toronto 112
Utah 84 FINAL
Boston 85
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Brooklyn 91
Denver 100 FINAL
Minnesota 85
Detroit 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
LA Lakers 94 FINAL
Miami 100
Philadelphia 118 FINAL
Oklahoma City 123
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Houston 100
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San Antonio 112
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Golden State 102
Portland 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Ottawa 3 FINAL
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Presbyterian 61
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Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
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Albany 83
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George Mason 51
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LSU 63
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New Hampshire 67
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Robert Morris 91
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St Francis-NY 79
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Seton Hall 66
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Massachusetts 53
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Duke 94
Purdue 66 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Miami-Florida 67 FINAL
Pittsburgh 63
St Bonaventure 64 FINAL
Saint Louis 48
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TX-Pan American 48
Houston 68 FINAL
Tulane 63
Howard 62 FINAL
Oklahoma State 82
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
Tulsa 47
Miss State 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Utah State 53 FINAL
Wyoming 76
St Johns 67 FINAL
Marquette 51
SIU Edwardsville 66 FINAL
Eastern Ill 78
Air Force 66 FINAL
Fresno State 68
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Illinois 69
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Nevada 62
Boise State 68 FINAL
San Jose St 51
San Diego St 60 FINAL
Oregon 65 FINAL
Oregon State 62
UC Santa Barbara 98 FINAL
Hawaii 90
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Davidson 63 FINAL
La Salle 74
Loyola-Maryland 46 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Boston U 48 FINAL
Colgate 58
Coll of Charleston 58 FINAL
James Madison 107
Delaware 76 FINAL
Elon 77
Drexel 58 FINAL
Northeastern 42
Hofstra 75 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 76
Towson 56 FINAL
William & Mary 68
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Akron 67
Ball State 85 FINAL
Central Michigan 69
Buffalo 55 FINAL
Bowling Green 47
Western Mich 65 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 74
Ohio U 69 FINAL
Kent State 56
Youngstown St 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 73
Illinois-Chicago 54 FINAL
Wright State 74
Alabama 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Detroit 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 56
Purdue 58 FINAL
Wisconsin 56


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