Oregon State football has had significant shifts since the departure of head coach Mike Riley after the 2014 season. With multiple head coach changes, mediocre records and disheartening conference play, it is easy to focus on the negatives.
Despite these challenges, the foundation for future success has never stopped being laid down.
Recent OSU Football graduate Andrzej Hughes-Murray emphasized how the program is in a better place compared to when he first joined the football team in 2016.
“I think we’re in a much better place, coaches and players and all the staff around,” Hughes-Murray said. “I think we’re definitely in a better spot, I think we have room to grow. But absolutely we’re in a better place. I think we have a really good chance to do some great things.”
Hughes-Murray was a team captain during his senior season in 2019, and now has four years of college football experience under his belt. Throughout his time he has experienced the hardships that these years have brought but continued to highlight the seeds to success being planted.
“Coach Smith, I have nothing but good things to say about him and his staff, his organization and everything is top notch,” Hughes-Murray said. “But most of all, I feel like guys are happy, they want to play, they want to play for the coaches, they want to play for each other.”
Head coach Jonathon Smith had a bumpy season his first year in 2018, finishing with a record of 2-10. However, in the following year, coach Smith guided the team to three more wins and ended the season tied for second in the PAC-12.
Since becoming head coach, Jonathan Smith has consistently emphasized the importance of comradery. Players on the team describe the team as a family atmosphere, a place where you know everyone will have your back.
“We definitely have a family environment, Coach Smith always talks about guys getting to know each other, getting to know each other’s names,” Hughes-Murray said. “The more you know the guys you’re working with the easier it is to get along with them and go out on Saturday’s and play with them.”
Although his senior season was not all he had planned as he was not able to play due to injury, Hughes-Murray believes that playing football for the Beavers taught him many life lessons. The experience helped him grow as a person and he would not change any part of his football journey.
“I feel like God put me here to play football, to grow as a man, and to help the community and I feel I’ve done all of those to the best of my ability,” Hughes-Murray said. “No, I wouldn’t change a thing.”