As the Tennessee Titans aim to field an improved defense in 2021, the roster is loaded with young players that are eager to prove their worth to the coaching staff throughout the rest of this year’s training camp and preseason. On the defensive line specifically, the Titans need someone to step up. The departures of DaQuan Jones and Jack Crawford means that there are some snaps up for grabs. One of the players that is looking to take advantage of the opportunity is Larrell Murchison, a sophomore defensive tackle that was selected by general manager Jon Robinson in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Murchison has looked more explosive at practice over the last few weeks than he did a year ago. He appeared in 10 games for the Titans last season.
A candidate to play a bigger role in 2021, Murchison recently spoke exclusively with Broadway Sports about his experience as a rookie, how he worked to improve his skill set during the offseason, and why being a positive influence in his hometown means so much to him.
JM: How do you reflect on your rookie season? What was the biggest lesson you learned during it?
LM: I learned how to be a professional. I studied and observed the older guys. I did everything I could to pick up and create some good habits for myself. I paid close attention to how the veterans on our team conduct themselves.
JM: You went through a virtual offseason last year. You must be excited to be in the midst of a proper training camp this time around. You’re getting on-field coaching, something that 2020 rookies didn’t get enough of last year due to the pandemic. How can those things help you take a step forward in your sophomore season?
LM: I’m very excited to be out here learning and getting that hands-on approach you’re talking about. You said it, we’re having more of a normal offseason this year. That’s exciting for us young guys. We’ve all been looking forward to getting that chance. I was ready and waiting for this.
JM: Going through that virtual offseason must have been difficult as a rookie. You really only played two seasons at NC State. It must have been tough to be a rookie in a weird year such as 2020.
LM: It was definitely different. I refuse to make excuses, though. When I reflect on it, you just have to take every day as they come. That’s how I look back on it. It was definitely different. The pandemic changed everything. The offseason was a weird one. We weren’t out there with our coaches. We just got to the league and we don’t really know anything yet. It’s the little things. We didn’t know what the day-to-day really entails. That was our first offseason, so we didn’t even know what a regular NFL offseason is supposed to look like. Things are a lot more normal this year and I’m excited for it. I’m just trying to pick up everything from the older guys and the coaching staff. We have a great group here. I’m trying to find a role and fill it to the best of my ability.
JM: You spent the last few months working with Chuck “Dr. Rush” Smith, one of the best pass rushing coaches and specialists in the business. I’ve collaborated with Dr. Rush in the past. Tell me a little about your work with him. How did working with him make you a better player this offseason?
LM: Chuck Smith is a great guy. He definitely pushed me to be a better player. We did some great work together. He’s very hands on. We had a goal from the first day I went in to the last day I left him. We never lost sight of that. I enjoyed every moment we spent together. We were working on some different moves. We worked on improving my hands. We worked on footwork a lot. He pushes you to the limit. It’s a great workout. You’ll be dead tired at the end of it (laughs). We were stringing some nice moves together. I’m excited to measure my progress throughout training camp and preseason.
JM: He’s an excellent coach. On that topic, you also get to work with Titans defensive line coach Terrell Williams. What do you enjoy about working with coach Williams?
LM: I enjoy everything about coach Williams. He makes it fun to come into work. It’s an honor and a pleasure to be coached by him. There’s so many things I like about coach Williams. If I have a question, I know he’s going to answer it. He’s gonna tell you what it is and he’s gonna give it to you straight. There’s no BS when it comes to coach Williams.
JM: I love that. Earlier in July, you held a community fun day for more than 500 people in your hometown of Elizabethtown, NC. This isn’t the first event you’ve held since getting drafted. Tell me about your passion to give back to your city.
LM: I was so excited to do that for my community. I come from a small town. To be able to get the kids together, and for me to show my face in my hometown, I love spending time with all those kids and letting them know that they could do it too. I come from the same place that you do. I was born and raised here. Look how far I’ve come. You can do it too. That’s the biggest thing for me. I’m trying to help them develop the right mentality from a young age. I have to show my face. I can’t turn my back on my neighbors. I’m forever going to be a humble guy. If you have a question, approach me and ask me. You can come to me with anything. I don’t have a problem with that. I want to see the kids win, just like I had my older mentors that wanted to see me win.
JM: You’re obviously such an important member of your community. Earlier, you talked about paying close attention to the veterans and picking up good habits from your teammates. Who are some of the guys that you enjoy leaning on for knowledge and wisdom?
LM: Everybody. Anybody that has a lesson to teach me, I’m all ears. Guys like Denico Autry and Jeffery Simmons come to mind. Every older guy we have, anybody that has something for me, I’m there and I’m ready to listen and learn. I love to soak up knowledge. I’m a sucker for good information. That goes for both on and off field lessons. I’m ready to do it.
JM: That’s the right attitude to have. We’ve really appreciated your time today, Larrell. In closing, what do your goals look like for these next few weeks?
LM: My biggest goal is to carve out a role for myself on this team. I’m going to prepare in the best possible way that I can prepare.