• John Macon Gillespie

Murrell Thinks Bearcats Have State's Best Backfield

Forest high star Renauldrick Murrell keeps pretty busy suiting up for the Bearcats. Hoops season recently wrapped up, but that meant the beginning of track season.

It’s during the fall, however, that “Snook,” as he is called, and on the gridiron where he shines brightest. That doesn’t mean basketball and track don’t give him a boost on the football field.

“Just staying in shape and getting ready for spring ball,” Murrell told SES Mississippi. “Basketball helps with hand-eye coordination and with my footwork. It does a lot of things that will benefit me during my senior year.”

Last season Forest finished 9-4 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Murrell led the Bearcats with 1,183 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.

That success didn’t come without adversity, though. Last offseason the program hired two offensive line coaches, only to see them leave. Due to the former running backs coach being named to the offensive line job, Lavadius Lyles, a cousin of Murrell, took over running back coaching void.

“Last year matured me a lot,” Murrell said. “The love of the game and knowing that the man in front of me can’t stop me drives me.”

“We came close as a team could be. We built a bond over the season. We learned to trust each other in the clutch moments. Our coaches pushed us hard every day to improve.”

Playing for his cousin, he says, made him a “better all-around back.” That was proven by the fact he eclipsed 100 yards in five games, including 197 against Magee, and scored in nine games.

Perhaps his best performance of the season occurred in a loss to eventual 3A champion Kemper County, where he rushed for 104 yards and two scores. It was his only multi-touchdown game of the season on the ground.

“My 62-yard touchdown run against Kemper County, the 3A champs, was the moment that sticks out most from last season,” Murrell noted.

Two areas jump off the page when watching Murrell run the football, his ability to avoid the first defender and his breakaway speed. Murrell added that his ability to see the holes quickly was as important his ability to hit them and explode quickly through them.

Though he says he’s a good pass blocker, it is an area he is focused on improving prior to his final prep season. Also, he is hoping to add the ability to run over defenders to his arsenal.

There is no question that Murrell knows more will also be required of him heading into his senior season. After all, he has lofty goals.

“I will do anything to get to the championship. I’m expecting for us to still be a good team and to make a run,” He said. “My vocal skills help me to be an effective leader. Everyone pays attention when I’m talking. I knew my senior year I would have to step up and become the leader of the team, and lead my teammates.”

Murrell certainly expects there to be plenty of talent coming back, including some youngsters coming up, to the Bearcats roster this fall. Payton Rogers, who rushed for 692 yards and eight scores last season, will also be back in 2017.

“I think we have the best backfield in the state,” Murrell said. “We have a lot of athletes still and some coming up from middle school. So we will be pretty good.”

**Photo courtesy of Billy Freeman

#Forest #JohnLukeMcCord

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