COVINGTON, Ga. — For Christian Murray, his college decision came down to two things: atmosphere and faith.
It’s the reason why the Newton High offensive linemen accepted a football scholarship to Albany State Wednesday night.
Murray graduated Newton in May with a football future undecided, but when he chose Albany State over South Carolina State, he credited his decision to the familiarity he felt while being on campus.
“The atmosphere there fit me well,” Murray said. “It’s a hard, gritty, work-type atmosphere, just like at Newton. And the mindset that Newton pushed forward in me since my freshman year was family and a sort of all-in commitment to one another, all those things I saw and experienced at Newton I saw it in Albany too.”
Murray was a three-year contributor and starter for the Rams’ offensive line, and that despite his last roster listing showing him to be an offensive guard standing about 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds.
Newton head coach Terrance Banks said, however, that Murray exhibited more intangible qualities that made him effective — the kind that don’t show up on a measuring tape or scale.
“He truly was one of the hardest working kids on the team and in our program, and was really the heart and should of the offensive line for the last three years,” Banks said. “He wasn’t the biggest kid out there, but he was the kid with the most fight in him.”
Some of that fight, Murray said, come from reliance on his faith. When asked what helped influence his decision toward Albany, Murray pointed back to some of the things he’d learned through Newton’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes program as a sort of compass to direct his path.
“All the player and coach interactions at Newton were a big part with me,” Murray said. “They wouldn’t just coach me. They would talk to me as a father figure, and everything from a culture standpoint, including the workouts and the mindset of it’s bigger than me.
“Our chapel leader Arthur Hawkins would tell us before every game, ‘We’re just not playing for us, we’re playing for Christ our Lord and Savior.’ Those things stuck with me.”
Murray was also a standout third baseman and part of the pitching rotation for Newton’s baseball team. He batted .295 with 15 RBIs, eight doubles and one home run during the 2018 season and posted a 2-0 record in two starts and four appearances on the mound.
But Murray’s plan is to devote his time to football at the state’s largest Historically Black College and University. A NCAA Division II school, Albany State plays in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and finished the 2017 season with a 6-4 regular season mark under coach Gabe Giardina who’s now heading into his third year at the program’s helm.
Murray will major in Business Administration after graduating Newton this past May with a 3.2 GPA. He’ll look to find time on the field at Albany State as a defensive lineman and long snapper.