Faces in KS: Aidan Murray

Aidan Murray is one of the top returning defenders in 3A for 2014. (courtesy photo).
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Sep 2, 2014

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Aidan Murray, a 6-foot-2 260 pound senior, from Southeast of Saline High School is one of the top returning defensive lineman in all of Kansas for the class of 2015. Murray, like most Kansas high school players from the smaller schools that often go unnoticed by the major division one colleges, is ready to prove that he can play at the next level. Not only motivated to play at the division one level, he wants to lead his team to another winning season. 

“First, my motivation is to help the team have a very successful season and obviously the goal of playing football at the next level.” Murray said.

Playing at the next level is definitely an opportunity Murray will have. The all-state defensive lineman has an FCS offer from South Dakota and is receiving heavy interest from North Dakota State, a team that has won the last three Division I FCS National Titles. The Bison have also won their last five games against FBS opponents, including a 31-14 victory over Iowa State on Saturday. Murray is also generating some Ivy League interest for football because of academics.

Last season he recorded 86 tackles in his junior season, including 13 sacks. His 13 sacks led the entire state of Kansas, according to MaxPreps. Last year he played in more of a defensive tackle role, this year he will make the move to defensive end. His motor is non-stop, something many players at the FBS level use to make up for their lack of size. 

“My coaches say I have a great motor and I play on the edge of being out of control.” Murray said.


Not only a solid performer on the field, Murray has very good marks in the weight room. He benches 320 pounds, squats 500, and cleans 325. He has also been timed in the 4.85-5.00 forty range over multiple camps and combines that he has participated in. Murray, unlike many larger school athletes who play just one sport, also uses basketball and track and field to stay in shape. He is a starter on the basketball team and throws over 50 feet in the shot, making it to state in 3A last season. Murray is always busy working on becoming a better athlete. 

"Both basketball and throwing require good footwork and that helps with football," Murray said. "I lift at school year round and I also work out twice a week with Jake Sharp". 

For now, Murray is focused on this season and leading his team deep into the 3A playoffs. Last year the Trojans, led by head coach Mitch Gebhardt, finished 7-3. They lost twice to 3A state runner-up, Beloit, a team who Murray lists at a rival. Class 3A could be wide open this year with a lot of teams capable of making deep runs.

“Our goal this season is to win our league and go deep into the playoffs,” Murray said. “3A always has quality teams and there are 64 teams in the class, you’re going to run into tough opponents in the postseason.”

The Trojans open the season on Friday with a North Central Activities Association league matchup against Salina Sacred Heart on the road. The schedule isn't an easy one as the Trojans have La Crosse, last years 2-1A state runner-up, and Beloit, last years 3A runner-up, during the regular season. They also have a fairly tough district which features Council Grove, Hillsboro and Hesston.  Southeast of Saline has 11 playoff appearances as a school and one state title (2005).

We caught up with Aidan below..

Q&A w/ Murray

How did you get involved in athletics? 

Our family life has always revolved around sports.  My dad was a 3 sport athlete in high school, football, basketball and track, and played football in college and he coached us as kids so that's what we've always done together for fun.

Talk about how last football season went for you and your team?  

We had a pretty good season going 7-3.  We lost twice to Beloit, once in a league game and then in the first round of the playoffs.  Obviously, they made it to the state championship game and I believe we would have made a much deeper run into the playoffs if we wouldn't have had to play them in the first round.  Personally, I felt that I improved throughout the season.  Our coaches are great and are always finding ways to help me improve my game. 
 
Any goals for you this season?

I want to help my team go further in the playoffs by getting better each week and by helping my teammates get better each week.  On defense, I need to be more disruptive than ever.  On offense, I need to continue to get on my blocks.

What are the teams expectations in 2014? 

Win league and go deep into the playoffs.
 
What will it take to make a run in 3A this season? 

3A always has quality teams and with 64 of them, you know you will run into some tough opponents in the post season.  I suppose staying healthy and execution are two of the most important things for success.

What do your opponents look like this season?  

We have a tough schedule this year.  Our league is always challenging with teams like Beloit and Sacred Heart and the others will be much improved.  This year we get to play LaCrosse, the #1 team in 2-1A.  That is going to be a great test for us as they are always really good.
 
How has practice went so far for you?

Practice has been going well. We all go hard and try to push each other.  I am trying to enjoy every minute of it with this being my last season of high school football.

Who are some of your key returnees?

We have a good group of experienced seniors with Kayden Besher at linebacker, Cody Schlesener at QB, Kyler Sager at WR and Carlos Henry and Lucas Dockter on the O & D Lines.  I also expect my brother, Ben Murray, to help out as he moves from free safety to linebacker and on offense.
 
What do you use as motivation to become a better player? 

My motivation is to help the team have a very successful season and the goal of playing at the next level.  Plus, Coach Gebhardt is a great motivator on and off the field.

How would you describe yourself as a player in football? 

My coaches say I have a great motor and I play on the edge of being out of control.

Biggest rivalry?

Beloit.  They've gotten the best of us the last couple of years but it hasn't always been that way.  

What do you do in the offseason to become a better football player?  

I'm a starter on our basketball team and I throw the shot in track.  Both of those require good footwork. 
I lift at school year round and I also work out twice a week with Jake Sharp. The Nike Football Training Camp in Dallas and the collegiate camps this summer were great learning opportunities for me.  I picked up some new moves and learned how to use my hands even better. 


You have received one FCS offer (South Dakota), who else is recruiting and how has the recruiting went so far?  

I had coaches from K-State, Tulsa, Princeton, South Dakota and some Kansas junior colleges visit me at school last May and I got a lot of letters and personal notes from many others.  This summer I attended camps at K-State, Tulsa, Northwestern, Princeton, Yale and Harvard and they all went well. North Dakota State has also showed heavy interest. We'll just have to wait and see how my senior season goes and then see what happens. I'm thankful for the offer that I have from the University of South Dakota.  

Favorite subject in school?
Any science class.
 
What is it like to grow up in the Salina area?

I moved from Plano, Texas to Salina in third grade so we could be closer to our family.  It has been nice growing up around my family and being able to help out on the farm.


Best opposing player you've faced in high school?

Beloit always has a lot of talent, Bryce Black and RJ Jackson to name a couple, but I'd have to say that Nick Wuthnow, Salina Sacred Heart's QB was the best all around player I've faced.  We were constantly in the backfield yet he was so hard to contain.
 
When you aren't playing sports, what do you do for fun?

I like to golf and fish and go to as many college football and basketball games as possible.
 
One thing the average person wouldn't know about you? 

Believe it or not, I was a skinny little kid.