When Charlotte opened up its season at Appalachian State on Sept. 12, the 49ers had a lot of new faces making big plays en route to a tough 35-20 loss to the Mountaineers.
Some of those new faces were on the offense, some on the defense. Tyler Murray, however, might have made the biggest impact.
The linebacker made 14 total tackles, had a fumble recovery and had an interception. He made big play after big play for the Charlotte defense. The big day earned Murray Conference USA defensive player of the week honors.
“It means a lot to me because it brings more energy to the team as a whole,” said Murray on his immediate impact.
Murray has continued to make big plays for the 49ers, who sit 2-3 overall and 2-1 in conference play. In just five games, the charismatic redshirt junior has 42 overall tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
The fast start means a lot to Murray after he sat out a year after transferring to Charlotte from the University of Troy. Per NCAA rules, transfers must sit out a season after transferring unless granted a special waiver. So far, the waiting has paid off for Murray.
“Just producing early showed all the work paid off from the year I had to sit out,” said Murray on his red-shirt season. "A lot of work went into that."
Murray had two successful seasons at Troy, where he had 64 tackles, four interceptions and three fumble recoveries. He was even named Third-Team all-Sun Belt in 2018.
Murray was successful early on in his career, but a fresh start with the 49ers was a challenge worth taking on for the young star.
"I feel like I made the right decision, the best decision for me,” said Murray on coming to the Queen City. “I feel more comfortable out of that program and more comfortable than ever here in Charlotte. It was the perfect fit for me.”
Murray checked all the checkboxes for Charlotte when he decided to transfer. As Coach Will Healy was just arriving in 2019, Murray fit in with the new culture.
Murray has seen a lot in his time with the 49ers thus far. While sitting out last year, Murray watched the 49ers go 7-5 and make a bowl game. Then, of course, Murray and the 49ers have gone through the roller coaster 2020 has offered. From spring practice being cancelled to three games being either cancelled or postponed, this season has been a lot to handle.
Although there is no handbook on how to play football in a pandemic, Murray’s football centered upbringing prepared him well. Murray grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and football was a must.
“Football played a big role,” said Murray on how football impacted his early life. “Football brought maturity and leadership for me.”
When it comes to 2020, Charlotte has had a stop and go season. This has allowed more off time for the team, which can either be a blessing or a curse. Murray tries to take things one week at a time and figure things out with his team.
“It challenges me and my team as a whole, it is very tough on us,” said Murray. “We just try to stay positive and do what we can each week.”
Even though this season isn't desired, Murray says the extra time also allows the players to spend more time taking care of their bodies and prepare thoroughly for games.
Murray has had plenty of time off the field to get to know his fellow teammates, but that's not the case when it comes to time on the field.
Luckily for Murray, he has plenty of talent beside him on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive back Antone Williams, who transferred from Duke, brings talent and experience. Ben DeLuca, who returned from injury this year, is another big piece for the 49ers.
"It is very helpful, those guys are very experienced," said Murray on the 49ers defensive talent. "It is nice knowing those guys are back there. It is very helpful so we can all play as one."
Murray and the 49ers still have a lot of work to do this season to get back to a bowl game, but things are off to a good start.
"We have the opportunity to put the university on the map," said Murray on Charlotte playing in bigger and better games in the future.