NORMAN — Last summer doctors informed Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray he was fully recovered. He felt no pain. But when the season began, in the back of his mind it was a challenge to cut loose.
"It's more mental than physical," Murray said. "It doesn't even have to hurt. You think, 'Hey, if I have to make this cut will something tear?' It's all mental."
Named preseason All-America by several publications, Murray hopes to finally have an injury free season.
OU running backs coach Cale Gundy said Murray's renewed confidence was evident this offseason. Instead of rehabbing an injury, Murray concentrated on getting in shape for his senior season.
"For me it was hard after those two surgeries," Murray said. "I had to get my step back, get my confidence back. Now that I was able to finish last year and finish spring and summer with no injuries it's great.
"I'm not worried about injuries. I'm not worried about anything except going out there and playing hard."
That's a major difference compared to last season. Gundy said Murray didn't look like himself until the fourth or fifth game.
"He was kind of hesitant," Gundy said. "I think everybody noticed. Anytime you have an injury that keeps you out half the year they tell you that you're 100 percent. But until you make some cuts and take some hits you have to wait until that light bulb kicks on that, 'I'm OK.'"
Murray has plenty of experience with learning to trust his body.
His true freshman season he battled turf toe. His redshirt freshman year he suffered a dislocated knee cap while trying to recover an onside kick. His sophomore season he injured his hamstring. Murray missed some time last season with a sprained ankle and strained his other hamstring.
"(Rehab) is a grind," Gundy said. "Your buddies are out doing what you want to be doing but you're in the (training) room. We have outstanding trainers and physical therapists. But it's a lot of work. It's as much mental as physical to get it done."
Murray said he's as strong mentally as he's been since he arrived on campus. He reported at 207 pounds, down from 214 a year ago. He's confident he can still supply home-run plays, provide production as a receiver out of the backfield and pound for tough yards up the middle.
"I've always tried to gain (weight) as long as I've been here," Murray said. "When I first got here I was only 190. I've always put on weight for other people, not myself. So this year I concentrated on what I wanted to do. I know my body and felt this was the best weight for me.
"Last year I felt I could be a little stronger between the tackles. This year I wanted to go back to my normal weight, what I'm used to, not too heavy, not too light, somewhere in the middle. I feel I still have the speed as well as the strength. I'm feeling really good."
DeMarco Murray year by year
A look at OU senior running back DeMarco Murray's production:
Year, Rush Yds., TDs, Rec. Yds., TDs
2007, 764, 13, 60, 0
2008, 1,002, 14, 395, 4
2009, 705, 8, 522, 4
Totals, 2,471, 35, 977, 8
Noteworthy: Established the school's single season record for all-purpose yards as sophomore (2,171 -- 1,002 rushing, 395 receiving, 774 kickoff returns).