The lasting image of Chris Murray might be when the slithering, impossible to tackle quarterback evaded an all-out blitz on a third down with 33 yards to go and moved the chains against rival Montana.
Or it might be later in that 31-23 Montana State victory over the Grizzlies in 2017, MSU’s first in Bozeman in more than a decade, when Murray punched in a touchdown run from four yards out to all but seal a second straight rivalry victory.
Or it might be the quarterback draw that Murray turned into a 54-yard touchdown to silence the normally rabid faithful at Washington-Grizzly Stadium his first time ever playing in Missoula in MSU’s 24-17 win in hostile territory.
Or the indelible image just might be the full front flip into the end-zone that will forever serve as one of the lasting scenes in the fiercest rivalries in the West, an iconic moment that symbolized Murray’s electrifying yet sporadic time at Montana State.
Regardless of which images remain iconic, no more memories will be made by Murray at MSU.
On Friday, Murray’s career as a Bobcat officially ended. Montana State sports information announced his official removal from the roster after a near 18-month saga in which Murray unsuccessfully tried to get back into good academic standing. Murray missed the 2018 season after the academic issues first arose. He practiced on Saturdays during spring football this year but never received full clearance. On Friday, an athletic department spokesman said Murray was never able to restore his eligibility and has left the team.
The Inglewood, California native’s career at Montana State featured soaring highs and puzzling lows. He broke into the starting lineup a week before his 18th birthday as a true freshman, replacing former four-star recruit Tyler Bruggman midway through head coach Jeff Choate’s first season at the helm. Murray led the Bobcats to consecutive Big Sky victories to close the 2016 season, including the first of two triumphs over Montana.
In MSU’s near-upset of No. 3 South Dakota State early in the 2017 season, Murray threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for more than 100, showing flashes of a dominant dual-threat that Montana State hoped he could become consistently. But he also had several games where he struggled to complete a pass.
He finished his career with a 7-9 record as a starter, including two wins over the Grizzlies. In 2016, he finished with 866 rushing yards, at the time MSU’s all-time single-season record for a freshman. He earned Big Sky Freshman of the Year honors despite starting just five games.
In 2017, he became the third quarterback in Big Sky Conference history to rush for more than 1,000 yards when he finished with 1,124 yards, the second-most in the entire league.
For his career, he amassed 4,469 yards of total offense and accounted for 43 total touchdowns. He competed 49.4 percent of his passes for 2,485 yards, 21 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He rushed for 1,984 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Sophomore Tucker Rovig and redshirt freshman Casey Bauman are considered the top two candidates to take over as Montana State’s starting quarterback. Last season, converted running back/linebacker Troy Andersen rushed for 1,421 yards and a school-record 21 touchdowns on his way to earning unanimous first-team All-Big Sky honors. But he will play defense with spot offensive touches this season, according to Choate.
Montana State sports information also confirmed the removal of junior running back Tyrel Burgess (academics) and cornerback Jalen Cole (injury) from the roster.
Cole, a former 3-star recruit, remains a part of the program despite not being on the active roster. If and when he’s medically cleared, he’ll be reinstated, which means 2019 could be a redshirt season.