AURORA | Cameron Murray’s large family crowded around him on the stage at his joyful signing ceremony Wednesday, but one very important family member was there in spirit only.
Just before Overland’s Sept. 7 football game against Horizon, the Trailblazers’ star senior defensive back found out that his grandmother, Joyce Askew, had passed away from an illness.
Though devastated at loss of one of the most important people in his life, Murray suited up and made six tackles in the contest. His grandmother was on his mind again Wednesday when he signed his National Letter of Intent to play Division I football at the University of Wyoming.
“She always told me that I could do this and sign to play in college, so this is for her, honestly,”” Murray said of Askew, who was around when he made his verbal commitment in February.
“She totally believed in my dreams and I’m doing it,” he added. “I’m just trying to make her proud.”
Murray achieved that dream at exactly 7:12 a.m. when he signed his National Letter of Intent — thanks for the early signing period for football that debuted this season — and it became official at 8 a.m. when the signed paperwork made it to Laramie. The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder got a phone call shortly thereafter from excited Wyoming coach Craig Bohl.
He was one of the first Aurora athletes to take advantage of the new early signing day for football along with future Wyoming teammate Gunner Gentry of Grandview, who signed his NLI while in Las Vegas for the Tarkanian Classic with the Grandview boys basketball team.
The advent of the early signing period — which runs until Friday — worked particularly well for Murray, who will graduate from Overland at the end of the first semester. He will head to Wyoming on Jan. 19 for orientation and begin classes Jan. 22 as he starts his pursuit of an accounting degree.
“I think the early period is a beneficial thing,” Murray said. “Ultimately, if you are ready to go to a school, you can just go instead of waiting until February and having other schools try to come take you.
“I’m a Cowboy now and that’s about it. I’m really excited.”
Murray made 39 tackles, intercepted two passes and recovered two fumbles during his senior season when Overland went 5-5 in the first year under new head coach Steve Sewell.
While Murray is glad to be heading off early, Sewell is a little less thrilled as it means he won’t have Murray on his track team next spring. Murray finished third in the 200 and 400 meters at the Class 5A state track meet.
Sewell will also miss Murray, a team captain, for the example he set for the football team.
Murray displayed a lot of dedication to the Trailblazers, as he finished out the season despite being pretty banged up.
“He got injured later and had a chance to shut it down, but he said ‘I’m coming back and not letting my team down,’ so he finished up the last couple of games,” Sewell said.
“He could have said I’ve got my scholarship and I’m going to stop and not do any more, but he sucked it up,” he added. “I was proud of him and that’s something that we can use for years with this program as an example.”
Another benefit of Murray’s signing is it keeps open the Overland pipeline to Laramie as he will be the fourth former Trailblazer on the roster next season.
He’ll get one full season with the other three — Kevin Prosser, Austin Conway (his cousin, who originally signed with the Wyoming men’s basketball team before moving over to football) and Alijah Halliburton — and two with Conway and Halliburton.
“Coach Bohl has stopped here for a lot of years now, so I pray there are some more future Cowboys that come out of Overland,” Murray said. “Wyoming is just Overland University.”
Gentry also has a Wyoming connection as his older brother Tanner — who also starred at Grandview — had an outstanding career with the Cowboys and is in the NFL with the Chicago Bears.
Murray and Gentry along with fellow Coloradans Chad Muma (Legend) and Zach Watts (Windsor) were part of a 20-member class of signings for Wyoming (7-5), which is preparing to play in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Central Michigan on Dec. 22 in Boise, Idaho.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel