NORMAN — Getting a transfer up to speed is never easy.
Not only is the player getting acclimated to new coaches and teammates, they’re having to digest a new play book while learning a new city, all on the deadline of trying to earn a starting job or a major role on the team before the season kicks off.
It’s a process DeMarco Murray is learning first hand, as he’s gotten to bring in a pair of transfer running backs in Eric Gray from Tennessee and Tre Bradford from LSU.
For a guy like Gray though, he’s had the spring and summer to get up to speed.
Transferring in at the turn of the new year, Gray has quickly established himself as one of the top guys in the OU running backs room, alongside Kennedy Brooks.
“He has a great mindset about him. A great work ethic and just a great demeanor overall. You talk about a guy who’s a pro. You don’t have to say much to him, you don’t have to get him revved up,” Murray said during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. “You talk about a guy who does it the right way on and off the field, he’s definitely high up there.”
And while the Sooners have been hard at work developing quality depth, the pecking order is clear at the top, Murray said.
“We’ve got all the confidence in the world in those guys,” he said of his running back room, before adding “our top two are our top two.”
Bradford is making strides, but there are no illusions about the hill he has to climb.
Deciding to enter the transfer portal in June, Bradford has months of catching up to do just to achieve the same understanding of the offense as Gray.
“(Bradford’s) only been here for about two months so he has to pick up the offense and continue to study, which he’s doing. He’s doing a great job at that. He’s made a lot of good plays for us,” Murray said. “He has to just kind of put it all together and he’s headed that direction.”
As he digests the playbook, Murray said Bradford still has a big role to play in Lincoln Riley’s offense.
“His versatility is extremely important for our room. He does some things that the other guys can’t do so he’s continued to learn,” Murray said. “He give us a lot of really good speed. He’s really good with the ball in his hands."
The process of picking up a new playbook is different for every player, Murray said.
“Obviously guys learn different ways. Some guys are more reps, some guys are more visual learners,” he said. “It’s up to me as a coach to find out how those guys learn the best way.”
Murray is no stranger to picking up new playbooks either. During his NFL career, Murray underwent the process at least three times as he moved from Dallas to Philadelphia and eventually Tennessee.
But despite the difficulty of adjusting to a new place, especially on a truncated timeline like Bradford’s, Murray said he’s still really pleased with how Gray and Bradford are coming along.
“They’ve both done a great job. It’s obviously on them once they leave the building and study on their own and watch the film,” Murray said. “But while we have no school and things like that we get a chance to obviously watch a ton of film and get a bunch of reps… It’s helped both of those guys.”
While Gray is expected to get a bunch of touches in 2021, Murray said he knows Bradford will get opportunities as well to not only provide depth, but make a difference on Saturday’s.
“I mean he wouldn’t be here if he didn’t (have a chance to play),” Murray said. “His versatility is extremely important for our room.
“He does some things that the other guys can’t do.”
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