John Murray has made it his duty since high school to live by six words uttered by General George S. Patton.
“Fatigue makes cowards of us all,” Murray said, remembering a line from Patton’s book “War as I Knew It.”
Now as Northeastern State’s strength and conditioning coordinator, Murray sees to it that RiverHawks football players adhere to the same creed.
Murray — set to enter his sixth season as a member of NSU’s coaching staff — is the one who oversees NSU’s summer workout program, which aims to prevent the fatigue that Murray mentioned.
“Those first two or three games are going to be won by the better-conditioned team,” said Murray, whose RiverHawks begin the 2013 season at Pittsburg State on Sept. 7.
“The team that can be more physical, and the better conditioned team, is going to win that football game.”
That’s been the goal of Murray during summer workouts. Of the 30 to 40 players that showed up, it’s been all about going through a regiment that will best prepare players for the upcoming season.
“The ones that have stayed — a lot of the young guys, surprisingly, incoming freshmen — have showed a lot of promise,” Murray said. “There have been some good, big, strong kids that are really helping themselves.”
Among the beneficiaries that Murray mentioned are now Sequoyah alums Tanner Sheets and Jordan Colburn. Also, Blake Maxey of Keys and Tahlequah’s Mason McMillan were those mentioned by Murray.
When asked which players have made the biggest transformations during the summer months, Murray identified a couple of wide receivers.
“Steffon Herd has always been a good-looking kid; he just needed to get bigger. He’s made significant gains this summer. Cruz (Williams) has made some gains this summer, too,” Murray said of the two wideouts. “Another guy who has made massive gains is (offensive lineman) Devin Crisp. He has been coming in twice a day. I actually had to tell him, ‘you’re over-training; you’re going to have to step back because you’re not giving your body time to recover.’”
While hoping those who weren’t around this summer aren’t over-training, Murray does hope all the players on NSU’s roster have been conditioning.
“I don’t care who you are, you’re not going to push yourself and condition like if you were here,” Murray said. “I just hope the guys back home get enough, and it’s not so hard for them to get back in the groove.”
If players return out of shape, they’ll likely be the ones running to the corners of the field when NSU opens fall camp on Monday.
“Hopefully,” Murray said, “I don’t have to set trash cans up on the corners of the field.”