There’s no denying that Mississippi State’s running game struggled last season.
But there will be no shortage of options in the backfield as the Bulldogs try to turn things around in 2016. Not only will MSU have all four running backs returning from last season but also two more tailbacks joining the mix after a redshirt year.
“There’s a lot of competition,” said redshirt freshman Alec Murphy. “Nick Gibson and I are always trying to compete with the older guys and show them that there’s no difference because of how long you’ve been here. It’s all about what you’re doing out there.”
Murphy spent the spring trying to make his case for playing time. During the Bulldogs’ three spring scrimmages, the 6-foot, 225-pounder carried 22 times for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Murphy saved his best performance for last as he led the White team with 45 yards on eight attempts in the spring game and also catching a pass for seven yards.
“Being one of the bigger backs, I want to run with authority and go more downhill and get those two or three yards that you’ll need for those first downs,” Murphy said. “I want to be that power back that can also go out on the perimeter and make those catches.”
Murphy knew with the depth the Bulldogs already had in the backfield that he would likely be a redshirt candidate his first year on campus. That did not deter him from choosing State but he also embraced the challenge by adding 10-pounds of muscle and increased his knowledge of the game.
“Not only was it physically but also mentally changing for me,” Murphy said. “I came in thinking that redshirting wouldn’t be that bad. I always wanted to be playing but I’m really happy that it happened. It’s enabled me to be able to see what it’s all about and get my body physically and mind mentally ready.”
Upon arriving in Starkville, quickly learned that he would need more that just his athletic ability to excel at the SEC level.
“You have to have a complete understanding of how the game is played to be with these guys out there,” Murphy said. “Everybody is on the same level so it comes down to who knows it best.”
Murphy came to college with plenty of accolades at the prep level. The former three-star prospect was rated the top running back in his native Missouri rushing for 2,840 yards and 34 touchdowns his final two seasons. As a senior, Murphy helped lead Nixa High School to the Class 5 state championship game.
Although he had offers from Illinois, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State and Purdue, Murphy is proud of the choice he made to become a Bulldog.
“I’ve been very happy and am very satisfied with our program and how hard we work,” Murphy said. “No other school pops into my mind where I wish I’d gone there. I’m happy with my decision. I love all the running backs, my coaches and my line. All of them motivate me and steer me in the right direction.”