Before Michael Jordan was making Bryon Russell fall with a killer crossover and draining the go ahead jumper to win his sixth NBA title with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan was a skinny, determined athlete dominating the competition at Laney High (Wilmington, N.C.).
Before Adrian Peterson was trucking opposing defenses and racking up 2,097 yards in a single season for the Minnesota Vikings he was shining bright under the Friday night lights at Palestine High (Palestine, Texas), averaging 12 yards a carry and scoring 32 touchdowns.
Before any athlete can become legendary they have to lay their foundation in the high school ranks.
Each week I’ll chat with a high-profile athlete’s former coach, mentor, family member, etc., and reminisce about their high school playing days; everything from the greatest moment to the wackiest story.
This week I caught up with Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray’s high school coach at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) David White, now an executive with the UFC.
Jason Jordan: What’s your best memory of DeMarco on the field?
David White: It was a playoff game during his junior year; it opened and they returned the kickoff for a touchdown. Then we get the ball back on the 13 yard line and DeMarco gets the ball on a basic toss sweep and goes left sideline, right sideline and all the way for a touchdown. I don’t know why that sticks out because he’s had so many big plays, but it was obviously a high stakes game and he really turned nothing into something on that play. He did that a lot.
JJ: What’s your best memory of DeMarco off the field?
DW: Probably just how he transitioned from public school to private school and how he worked his butt off to be able to qualify at OU. I know he learned a lot from that whole process.
JJ: What’s something people would be shocked to know about DeMarco?
DW: He hated the weight room back in the day. I had to babysit him in the weight room. I mean I’d put 135 on the bench and it was like a nightmare. Then, all of a sudden, he started getting a few bumps on his body and he started to like it. Then he went to Oklahoma and he’s benching 315 and repping 275! Another thing is that he hated vegetables and all he used to drink was Sprite. He loved that stuff man! Loved it.
JJ: What’s the craziest story you can recall from his recruitment?
DW: Coach Stoops came out to look at Ryan Reynolds and he’d also heard about DeMarco so, as we’re walking in the gym to go see Ryan in the weight room, DeMarco’s at basketball practice and does the fancy, behind-the-backboard, off-the-wall, 360-dunk. It was a crazy dunk! And the first thing Coach Stoops says is “I know we’ve offered him by now haven’t we?” Another good story is when Coach Stoops came out to our banquet during DeMarco’s senior year. Pete Carroll came out on the same night and both of the coaches wanted him commit that night. He met with Coach Carroll and he was selling DeMarco on how he could be a big time NFL draft pick at cornerback. Demarco felt like he could, but he told Coach Carroll that he wanted a shot at running back and within the 30-minute talk he switched and said “OK we’ll give you a shot at running back.” I think that’s when DeMarco realized that he just said that so he’d commit. Later that night, DeMarco committed to Coach Stoops. Now that’s nothing against Coach Carroll because DeMarco’s a better linebacker and defensive back than running back, I’m gonna be honest with ya! He was a bad dude! But he wanted to go where he had the best chance to play running back. Looks like it worked out for him, aye!
JJ: How good was DeMarco on the hardwood back then?
DW: (Laughs) He’ll tell you he was better than he was. DeMarco was the guy who’d go in there for five minutes and get fouls. He was just super aggressive and he could jump out of the jump. He was definitely a good guy to have on the team though.
JJ: Obviously, DeMarco’s dominating right now, leading the league in rushing; what do you think his ceiling is?
DW: I really believe that he’s got a special “it” factor that will take him far. With him being hurt the last two years people are surprised by what he’s doing but not me. When he was in high school every time he touched the ball the stands would just get on their feet in anticipation. College too. Now people are doing the same thing. I think his ceiling is huge for him. I think he’ll keep going and going until he reaches the top; and then he’ll go past that. He’s special. He’s got “it.” You can just see it.
Checkout DeMarco Murray’s HS highlights.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY