It's not always common for a Texas A&M Aggie to lend a hand to a Texas Longhorn.
But then, former Aggies quarterback Kevin Murray didn't know that Irving Cistercian Prep quarterback Matthew Merrick would end up in Austin when Merrick, a former AAU standout, went to Murray for help in the fall of 2013 when he decided that he wanted to switch his focus from basketball to football.
Murray agreed, and it officially started a journey that culminated with Merrick enrolling at Texas in August as a member of the 2015 recruiting class.
As tends to happen in these cases, Murray was an extremely valuable asset for Merrick in more ways than just instructing him on the finer points of throwing a football, according to the Dallas Morning News:
Murray not only polished Merrick's footwork and mechanics but instilled confidence that he was a "Power Five" quarterback. Murray had connections to college offensive coordinators and quarterback coaches and started touting his new protégé. Merrick's first FBS offer came in June 2014 from Colorado State; Murray has a close relationship with then-Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain.
Eventually, however, two strong performances at Texas summer camps put Merrick firmly on the radar of assistant head coach for the offense/quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson and eventually earned him a grayshirt opportunity last November.
While it's difficult to tell how much Merrick benefited from working with Murray and how much of his improvement was just natural, the growth between his junior and senior seasons was apparent from his stats -- he threw 14 interceptions both seasons, but jumped from 12 touchdown passes as a junior to 33 as a senior while raising his completion percentage and his yards per attempt.
After his successful senior season, he worked with Murray twice a week on passing drills, lifted every day, and did speed and agility drills twice a week to prepare for what he hoped would be an August enrollment in Austin. When several scholarships opened up due to non-qualifiers, Merrick got the opportunity he wanted all along.
Merrick's Hudl page features a video of one of his workouts with Murray that highlights the quick feet that made Merrick such a successful AAU basketball player and the raw potential that intrigued the Texas coaches. The up-close-and-personal vantage point of the camera also gives a closer look at the arm talent that Merrick possesses -- on touch passes down the seam, his delivery is effortless, but the ball still jumps out of his hand. In fact, he can make all of the throws in such a setting, including the deep out routes that require NFL-level arm strength.
In looking back on his unique journey, Merrick gives a lot of credit to Murray for helping him succeed.
"I don't think this would have been a process without him," Merrick said of Murray in his DMN interview. "I think I just would have been a good high school quarterback at a small private school. With him — not only making me a better quarterback, but also putting his name on the line for me — that's the whole reason any of this happened."