Latavius Murray is at a totally different place than he was a year ago when he was in his first training camp with the Vikings.
The running back was coming off offseason ankle surgery at this point in 2017, and was working to get back on the field.
Murray is healthy these days, but his outlook on things, especially off the field, has shifted a bit. The running back recently chatted with Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com about how he invested in his future over the past year.
Murray knows the shelf on running backs. He’s aware that only six running backs over the age of 30 carried the ball more than 100 times last season.
So following a strong 2017 season in which he gained 842 yards on the ground and scored eight touchdowns, the Minnesota Vikings’ veteran running back decided to take steps to lay the foundation for his post-career life. This offseason he began taking Masters in Business Administration courses at Syracuse University.
“When you’ve gone through some adversity and specifically with me injuries, it forces you to think about post career and maybe what’s next,” Murray said following practice on Monday.
Coller also noted that Murray’s focus on and off the field have set a solid example for the younger players in his position room in Minnesota, most notably second-year running back Dalvin Cook.
Having players like Murray simply act as role models to younger players could take a bite out of the percentage of those who struggle post-career. Young running back Dalvin Cook, a second-round pick in the 2017 draft, has taken notice of Murray’s endeavor.
“Off the field, Latavius just carries himself like he’s about business,” Cook said. “The school part is big on his behalf. To get his degree and to go back and do that, that takes a lot. Football keeps you busy. For him to do that, I respect him for that.”
Murray, [whom Cook] calls the “big brother in the room,” sees the domino effect of sharing his story with teammates.
“For Dalvin to see that — that’s not the reason I’m doing it — but I think those things are good,” Murray said. “I’ve talked to other players who are like, ‘You’re going back to get [a degree], man, that’s smart.’ Whether they didn’t finish, they want to go back and finish now. If they finished, but now they want to do the same thing and go get further education. I think that’s what it’s about. When we have that opportunity, why wouldn’t you?”
Hughes drawing rave reviews at training camp
We’ve reached the point in training camp where some players are standing out above others based on how they have performed the past few weeks.
Mike Hughes is one of those players.
Dan Hanzus of NFL.com compiled a roster from around the league of guys who have drawn rave reviews during camp, and Hughes was listed as a cornerback on Hanzus’ team.
Hughes could challenge for a starting job in Minnesota. Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer didn't mince words in describing the kid's promise: "I see potential for Mike Hughes doing anything he wants to in this game."
Hughes was the 30th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and has spent time at cornerback, kick returner, punt returner and on special teams in his first professional training camp.
Hanzus also listed Cook on his squad at running back.
Cook doesn't appear to have any limitations in his return from reconstructive knee surgery. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said the second-year RB is ready to go now. Reminder: Cook was on pace for nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage before the ACL monster got him in Week 4.
Cook ran for 354 yards and two touchdowns in three-plus games in 2017.