Marques Murrell was 10 years old when he watched his older brother Adrian emerge as the New York Jets’ leading rusher in his third season. The elder Murrell played five seasons with New York, rushing for 3,130 yards as a starter from 1995 through 1997.
While the Murrell name is familiar to Jets fans, the 6’2″, 250-pound linebacker has carved out his own path to the NFL.
Marques Murrell shined as a defensive end with Appalachian State, winning two national championships with the Mountaineers in 2005 and 2006.
A former two-time All-American, Murrell was touted as one of the top defensive players in Division I-AA.
Recording 36 sacks and forcing 18 fumbles—the latter holding as a school record—Murrell entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles before the Jets signed him away from their practice squad in November 2007.
Entering his third season with the Jets, No. 94 recently took the time to discuss his transition from defensive end, the NFL’s new “wedge” rule, his motivation as a professional football player, and much more.
Angel Navedo: You grew up watching your brother play for the Jets. What was it like for you when the Jets signed you and kept the family ties alive?
Marques Murrell: Yeah, I can say there was a tie between the Jets and the Murrell family (laughs). When I signed with the Jets, I felt blessed—especially for the fact that I have a chance at true playing time now.
AN: Did Adrian have any advice for you?
Murrell: Adrian and I have talked about football (since) the time I was in high school. I’ve been soaking up all the advice I can get from him and his fellow NFLers.
AN: You say you felt blessed to be with the Jets. I understand that you’re a very spiritual man. How has your faith in God impacted your life?
Murrell: My faith is continually growing. It has taught me to believe. Every day I leave all of my worries in God’s hands and know that He will always see me through it. I can say that for on and off the field. He’ll never leave my side!
AN: You were a dominant force at Appalachian State, yet you entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent. What have you done to stand out since being in the league?
Murrell: I use my speed to stand out. That’s how I got all my sacks in college. Reps in practice are different from preseason reps, though.
AN: Are there any undrafted free agents who have inspired you?
Murrell: Definitely. I (look to) players like Bart Scott and Marques Douglas. They make me feel like I can do well in the NFL and be blessed enough to play for a while.
AN: Your teammates have always taken notice of your motor and work ethic. Do you feel like that’s contagious?
Murrell: I wouldn’t say my work ethic is contagious (laughs). But I have heard that I do have a “motor.” Throughout time I have had a couple of friends drop by the wayside when it comes to training hard, though.
AN: The transition from defensive end to linebacker is considered to be a tough one. How’s it been going for you so far?
Murrell: The transition has been fun. Honestly, it’s been everything I’ve dreamed of. At times it can be difficult, but I’m having a good time while learning.
AN: Have you seen anything you like for yourself with the new system Rex Ryan brought in from Baltimore?
Murrell: I have seen some great opportunities that I can make the best of in Coach Ryan’s defense.
AN: What about with special teams? What do you think of the new “wedge rule”?
Murrell: I can tell you, with the new wedge rule in place I will have to change my approach on kickoffs—by getting more tackles! Now there are less guys I have to take on (laughs).
AN: What interests you most when you’re not playing football?
Murrell: I like cars. I studied finance at Appalachian State, but that’s because they didn’t have an automotive program. During my spare time I learn all I can about cars.
AN: How tough is it to balance the NFL with your hopes for the future?
Murrell: It can get difficult at times, but you have to be proactive now because you never know. Family will come first, next I study my plays, and then the cars (come after that).
AN: Awesome! I can’t thank you enough for taking the time out to do this. Everything will be ready to go by Friday.
Murrell: Sounds good with me.