When you think of the greatest threats in Missouri history with the ball in their hands, make room for senior Marcus Murphy on that list.
Philadelphia Eagles teammates Jeremy Maclin and Brad Smith sit atop the Missouri football record books for career all-purpose yards.
That’s no shock.
Maclin, a star wide receiver and return specialist, and Smith, perhaps the most dynamic dual-threat quarterback in program history, are among the most skilled and talented players to roll through Missouri.
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With 118 yards last Saturday against Georgia, Murphy became only the third player in Tigers history with more than 4,000 career all-purpose yards.
“It means a lot,” said Murphy, who has 4,011 career all-purpose yards in black and gold. “The guys above me and even the guys on the list are big playmakers and great players. I’m just honored to be on the list. To be third, it shows that I can make plays.”
He said he wants to climb up to first, but with only six regular-season games remaining it might be a tall order.
Murphy — who has 2,416 career punt and kickoff return yards, 1,380 career rushing yards and 215 career receiving yards — has averaged 91.2 all-purpose yards in 44 career games.
It’s reasonable to think he will pass Smith (4,419), but, even if Missouri reached the SEC Championship Game again and then played in a bowl, Murphy would need to average 199.8 yards to catch Maclin (5,609).
Murphy, who is the NCAA’s active leader in career return yards, does have Maclin’s record for career return yardage (2,626) in sight. He trails by 210 yards.
“I’ve always set goals,” Murphy said. “I like scoring touchdowns. I wanted to have the most touchdowns on the team. That’s a personal goal I always have.”
He only recently realized how far he’d climbed on the career all-purpose yards list.
“I just feel special to be on the list,” Murphy said.
Murphy, who was inserted as Missouri’s primary kick returner as a true freshman in 2010, missed the 2011 season with a shoulder injury.
He was the Tigers’ first first-team All-Southeastern Conference performer and a second-team All-American in 2012 after returning three punts and one kickoff for a touchdown as a redshirt sophomore.
Murphy has played a bigger role in the offense over the last two seasons, giving offensive coordinators a fun toy to play with.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Henson said. “We really need to get him involved. We need to have him touching the football to help us win games.”
Murphy averaged nearly a touchdown every 10 carries — nine on 92 rushes — as part of Missouri’s three-headed attack in the backfield during last season’s 12-2 campaign, which included an SEC East division title and Cotton Bowl victory.
“I was thinking the other day, watching him on the practice field, ‘Boy, are we really going to miss this guy,’” Pinkel said. “Then, I heard that stat (third in all-time all-purpose yards).”
“He’s a remarkable kid,” Pinkel said. “He’s good enough to start at receiver or running back. He’s obviously a great athlete and he’s got great speed. And he doesn’t take too many hits too often.”
Pinkel continued, “He’s had a remarkable impact in our football program … and certainly we’ll miss him when he’s gone.”
Almost as memorable as the shifty touchdowns runs he’s produced is Murphy’s trademark, “Yes, sir,” which is always delivered with a smile and a twinkle in his eye.
“He’s just got a great attitude all the time,” Pinkel said. “I mean, all the time. He drives me crazy when he goes, ‘Yes, sir. Yes, sir.’ I say, ‘You say that, Marcus, one more time, I’m going to come after you.’ But he’s a great kid.”
Missouri career all-purpose yards leaders
1. Jeremy Maclin (2007-08)
2. Brad Smith (2002-05)
3. Marcus Murphy (2010-14)
4. Devin West (1995-98)
5. Brock Olivo (1994-97)