The Youth Football Lessons that Helped Marques Murrell Succeed on the Field and in the Classroom
Welcome to Why We Play, a series of discussions with current players and NFL Legends about their youth football experience and why they play the game.
Marques Murrell’s brother Adrian is 14 years older than him. Adrian was starring in the NFL when Marques was just getting started at the youth level.
"He was in the NFL and I was playing flag," Marques said.
By the time Marques turned 14, Adrian was coming off his third straight 1,000-yard rushing season. Watching Adrian star in the NFL was all the inspiration Murrell needed to make his push.
"Watching my brother train is what pushed me along a lot further," Murrell said. "I knew I needed to do extra after practice or before camp started if I was going to make it. I was always big on training and getting in shape before camp started.
"The more you could run around a football field, the better off you'd be. You'd get more opportunities you’ll have to make plays on the field through conditioning. So even though it was pee wee football, I would do a lot of running and getting ready before the season even started."
Murrell played youth football in Fayetteville, N.C. and high school ball at Jack Britt High School, which produced four NFL players.
"I learned a lot from just being a teammate," Murrell said. "Teamwork, understanding how to work with other people, was so important.
"I even used it when I had to do classroom projects in school. I'd say, ‘OK, there’s five of us. All of us have their own thing to do, let’s do our jobs and then come together as a whole and present it to the class.'"
Murrell did well enough on the field and in the classroom to get a shot at the college level. He starred at linebacker at Appalachian State University, recording two first-team I-AA All-American honors and two consecutive Division I-AA National Championships in 2005 and 2006.
After going undrafted in 2007, Murrell signed with the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad. He was signed by the New York Jets during the 2007 season and played in New York until 2009 before spending his final NFL season with the New England Patriots.
Murrell spent two seasons in the UFL and CFL before calling it a career. In retirement, he followed two of his other loves — cars and Wall Street.
Murrell said he learned how to read as child by reading car magazines. He bought a classic 1964 Chevy Impala when he was still playing. "It's currently collecting rust, but I’ll get to it,’’ he said with a laugh.
And he has used his degree in finance to become a bonds consultant to financial advisors. His goal is to help young athletes and others understand the power of the dollar. Murrell also owns an independent automobile dealership.
When he meets young players and students, Murrell stresses the importance academics.
"I’m always willing speak to children when asked," he said. "The biggest message I try to get across is focus on the books, first. Even if you do have the opportunity to make it in the league, the game is going to end some day. So you have to be ready for it to end, and have a back-up plan."
Photo: AP/Bill Kostroun
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