After 14 starts during an impressive true freshman campaign at linebacker, Kenneth Murray remains primed for an exponential leap forward. Recording 78 tackles a year ago while showing a maturity on the field led the former 4-star prospect to a new hurdle — Big 12 Media Days as a sophomore. Yet, not many predicted the praise Murray received from Lincoln Riley during the outing.
On Monday afternoon, the Head Coach of the Oklahoma Sooners stepped up to the podium. Addressing defensive concerns quickly led to a conversation on leadership within the unit. Speaking clearly, Riley singled out the sophomore linebacker, Kenneth Murray, as the anchor of the defense despite the youth.
Kenneth Murray also singled out as a leader, despite his youth. Tre Norwood, Neville Gallimore, Amani Bledsoe named as well.
— The Official Visit (@TheOVPod) July 16, 2018
Talk about raising the bar for incoming defensive recruits! Of course, several others are mentioned as potential leaders among the defense. Yet, it begs the question…what happened to Caleb Kelly during this conversation?
The versatile pass rusher moved to a new role during the off-season, inside linebacker, albeit a natural fit for the former 5-star recruit. Now, Kelly must produce at a high level to garner the respect the player deserves. Entering a junior year, I’d expect Kelly to take on more of a leadership role across the entire roster, not just on defense. But, it hasn’t happened at this point in time apparently.
Finally healthy, Kelly could easily come alongside Murray as the two most productive players on the defensive side of the ball.