Opposits Attract in OU Backfield

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By Jake Trotter
The Oklahoman

NORMAN – When they arrived on Oklahoma’s campus four years ago, Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray didn’t know what to make of one another.

From running style to personality, the two couldn’t have been more different.

Brown was Bayou rugged and tough; Murray was full of Las Vegas finesse and flash.

“When we first got here, we didn’t talk to each other,” Murray recalled. “We were totally different; different backgrounds, different personalities. We didn’t hang out together.

“But we grew on each other, and now we know each other like the back of our hands.”

The Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve will be the swan song for the running back tandem, which should go down as one of the best in school and conference history.

While both enrolled at OU in 2006, Murray redshirted because of a toe injury his freshman year and still has a year of eligibility remaining. Brown does not.

“I think running out together for the last time, the emotions will hit me,” Brown said. “Man, the career that we’ve had with each other here, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

The two have had quite the careers as a pair. Brown has rushed for 2,877 yards and 45 touchdowns. Murray has ran for 2,444 yards and totaled 44 scores.

Not once along the way has either complained about losing carries and yards to the other.

“It’s not about competition for us,” Murray said. “It hasn’t been for awhile. I think that’s definitely helped us. We give each other the confidence to go out there and do our thing.”

Last year, that confidence manifested into a season to remember. Brown and Murray both rushed for more than 1,000 yards as OU became the first offense in college football history to produce a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard receiver and a pair of 1,000-yard rushers.

Though they haven’t had the same caliber season this year – due largely to injuries on the offensive line – Brown and Murray have still combined for more than 1,400 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns.

“It’s been really neat to see the two of them palling around together, not just the friendship they have, but how they work together, push each other,” coach Bob Stoops said. “They are genuinely excited to see the other do well.

“And I think it’s fair to say that between the two of them, they have complemented each other really well.”

They’ve also helped one another develop into more complete backs.

During the earlier part of his career, Brown was known by fans and media as “First Down Chris Brown,” whose specialty was churning out first downs in short-yardage situations. Murray was the team’s home-run threat, capable of generating a big play any time he touched the ball.

“Before last season, DeMarco was like, ‘Man, I like the way you run through the middle. … I’m going to try run that way.'” Brown said. “I was the same way. I was like, ‘when you get outside, you cut so fast. … I want to be able to do that.'”

So during the off-season, Brown worked with Murray on how to become a better power runner; and Murray helped Brown get a feel for how to cut into big plays.

And over the last two seasons, Brown has broken through for numerous 20-yard-plus runs, while Murray has been a load for opposing defenders to bring down between the tackles.

“When we first got here, we weren’t friends – you know when everyone gets here freshman year, everyone is looking at each other, sizing each other up,” Brown said. “But as time went along, we gelled so good.

“I had a vision of things happening like this.”

Said Murray, “At the team banquet, he was up there with the seniors, that’s when it hit me. We’re always together. We work out together, we push each other. It’s going to be tough with him not being here.”