Pepin grad invited to Minnesota Vikings’ rookie minicampFormer University of Mary and University of North Dakota running back Josh Murray, of Pepin, Wis., got the call April 29 that the Minnesota Vikings invited him to tryout at the rookie minicamp this weekend.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
Former University of Mary and University of North Dakota running back Josh Murray, of Pepin, Wis., got the call April 29 that the Minnesota Vikings invited him to tryout at the rookie minicamp this weekend.
Murray was notified by his agent, Greg Johnson, the day after the NFL Draft concluded and he will be one of 71 players attempting to make an impression at the camp and secure a contract with the Vikings.
“I was shocked actually,” Murray said of getting the news. “It’s what I’ve obviously been dreaming about as a little kid. It’s what I’ve been working for ever since I started playing football.”
The rookie minicamp runs from May 4-6 at Winter Park in Eden Prairie.
As Murray sat down with the Vikings’ playbook for the first time Thursday night, he said he hopes his one-year transition from UND to the University of Mary will help as he tries to learn a complicated series of plays and terminology in a short period of time. He’s learned on the fly before, he said.
“I’m just going to go out there and learn as much as I can,” Murray said. “I’ll use it as a learning experience. Do whatever I can to hopefully get invited back for (training camp in July).”
Whether his place will be as a backup running back or on special teams, Murray will have to make an immediate mark on the coaching staff. Coming from a small school in small town Wisconsin, Murray’s play has always had to make a lot of noise to get noticed.
“I had aspirations of it,” Murray said of making an NFL team. “I can’t say I ever expected it coming from a Division 7 school. But as the years went by I knew I wanted it bad enough, if I just kept with it maybe it could happen.”
This spring, Murray had a chance to work out with other NFL prospects and it helped him realize he had the ability to play at the next level, he said.
“When the combine came around, it became a little clearer to me that I had a shot if I kept trying as hard as I could,” Murray said.
In his only season for the University of Mary, Murray finished with 1,095 yards rushing on 192 carries, averaging 5.7 yards per attempt. He scored 16 touchdowns, 14 rushing and two receiving, and was just the fifth University of Mary running back to gain 1,000 yards or more in a season, according to the University of Mary athletic department.
University of Mary offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki said Murray’s combination of speed and balance helped him thrive in the Marauders’ system.
“He had an adept ability to see holes,” he said. “He had great patience and he’s a tremendous athlete. His vision and his ability to stay on his feet were his biggest strengths. He was able to stay on his feet and get those extra yards.”
Kotelnicki said that his coaching experience at the college level shows that players coming from outside Division I schools have an uphill battle to make a NFL team regardless of talent level but Murray has the ability to make a splash.
“He has as good a chance as anybody,” Kotelnicki said. “At the very least, I think he deserves a chance to get looked at very closely.
“We’re excited for him.”
After leaving UND, Murray wasn’t sure he’d ever get a chance to play college football again. But with a standout performance this weekend, the dream of making an NFL team is finally within his reach.