PITTSBURGH — When new Steelers linebacker Tyler Murray took the practice field on Wednesday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, it seemed like a surreal experience. Just 24 hours earlier, he would have no clue that he would end up in the NFL. And the whirlwind of those 24 hours just shows how fast the NFL moves.
On Tuesday, Murray was working a shift at Amazon when he received a call. It was his agent, and the Steelers wanted to fly him out the following day for a workout. Murray arrived in Pittsburgh and, on Wednesday, worked out for the team. Hours later, he inked a deal to join the team’s practice squad. He has not even had time to tell his bosses back at Amazon that he is now an NFL player with the Steelers.
It was crazy,” Murray said. “I just wanna start out by saying I thank God for the opportunity Pittsburgh has given me. I was working at Amazon, full uniform and all, and my agent called me and said, ‘We’ve got a workout for you with the Steelers, and I’m like, ‘Aw man,’ so I had to tell my boss, ‘Hey I am going to have to leave work early today.’ And they were cool with it. So, next thing you know, I was getting a flight up here around 7, so I made it, and now they just decided to sign me, so I wanted to say it’s just a blessing. I am so happy to be here.”
Murray Looks to Make Impact
Pittsburgh’s injuries at linebacker have forced them to make changes. Mykal Walker and Tariq Carpenter will get legitimate playing time. But Murray has a chance to earn that, too. A former defensive back turned linebacker, Murray believes that his skill set is uniquely fit for coverage situations, something the Steelers could need. He self-described himself as a ballhawk.
“I am probably a quick linebacker since I transferred from DB to inside the box,” Murray said, “so I can say I am a ballhawk and my stats in college were very good. I just am noticeable in that so I can just say I am versatile as a linebacker now and I can read a lot of stuff.”
Murray comes out of Memphis but played at three different schools in his NCAA career. He played at Charlotte, Memphis, and Troy. As a result, Murray knows Calvin Austin III and Alex Highsmith. Those connections give him some familiarity in his new home. But the circumstances that gave him an opportunity were born out of injuries to Kwon Alexander and Cole Holcomb. He hopes to meet them, and learn from them as he catches up.
“I just want to help the team the best I can — special teams, the practice squad, whatever I’ve got to do,” Murray said. “I am sorry from the linebackers that got hurt. I hope I can meet them to learn from them and what they know already, so just being here to learn all I can and do the best I can to help this team out.”
Murray, 24, is a Memphis alum who first joined the Cincinnati Bengals this offseason as an undrafted free agent. He was released coming out of training camp, but signed to the Bengals practice squad. Cincinnati released Murray from the practice squad on Sept. 5, when the Bengals signed former Steelers tight end Zach Gentry.
The 6-foot-1, 226-pound Murray spent one season with Memphis in 2022 as a graduate transfer. He started all 13 games for the Tigers and recorded 67 tackles, six for a loss, two interceptions, three hurries and two pass breakups.
In the pre-draft process, Murray graded out with average speed for his size, which is small for a linebacker. He recorded a 4.65-second 40-yard dash and a 4.51-second short shuttle. He did show solid athleticism, with a 35.5-inch vertical and a 10-foot-2 broad jump. His Relative Athletic Score at linebacker is a 5.64. He would have been a 6.43 when compared to strong safety prospects.
Now, he hopes to turn his crazy 24 hours into a dream with the new opportunity afforded to him. He certainly has a background and interesting traits that he could take advantage of, and that makes the addition intriguing from that perspective for the Steelers.