St. Petersburg Times
Online: Tech Times
 tampabay.com
Print storySubscribe to the Times

Preps

Tigers tout twin threats

O.J. Murdock's speed and Conshario Johnson's strength leave opponents with no good choices.

By KEITH NIEBUHR
Published October 22, 2004

TAMPA - The way Middleton quarterback Cedric Harris sees things, he couldn't have it much better.

At one receiver spot, the Tigers boast O.J. Murdock, arguably the county's fastest player. At the other, there's the versatile Conshario Johnson, who's not only a burner but the kind of athlete who doesn't mind doing the dirty work.

"You can't key on one person," Harris said.

The quarterback's pleasure is an opponent's pain.

Aided by the efforts of Murdock and Johnson, the Tigers are 5-1 entering tonight's district game at unbeaten Armwood, which is ranked No. 1 in the Class 4A state poll. Stopping the standout receivers, each of whom appears headed to a major college, hasn't been easy as they've combined for nine touchdown receptions and more than 1,000 yards.

"They each bring their own talents," coach Harry Hubbard said. Murdock's greatest asset is his speed. He says he runs the 40 in a blazing 4.31 seconds and he doesn't appear to be exaggerating. Murdock was third in the 100- and 200-meter dash at state track last spring. The year before, he was fourth in each event.

Neither Murdock nor his coach can recall the player ever being caught from behind.

"There's only so much that can be taught," Hubbard said. "The speed he has is a blessing from God."

Murdock has 30 catches for 560 yards and five touchdowns. One score went for 67 yards.

"He's so fast, all the time I'm like, "How do you do it?"' Johnson said.

Murdock's stack of mail includes letters from just about every big-time program. He's pretty much narrowed his list of possible locales to Florida, Florida State, LSU, Miami and Tennessee. Each has offered him a scholarship.

Murdock can stretch even the best defense. He's even effective without the ball. When defensive backs run his way, they leave open areas behind.

"I'm a big-time decoy," he said.

The recipient?

That would be Johnson, who's considering Alabama, Georgia and Louisville.

"If they key on O.J., we throw it to Conshario," Harris said.

Johnson's numbers include 28 catches for 460 yards and four touchdowns. He's the perfect complement to Murdock because, as he likes to say, "I'm real strong-willed to get the ball."

In other words, he isn't afraid to make the tough catches inside the hash marks. Harris has passed for 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns. And because linebackers and defensive backs often are transfixed on the receivers, holes are open for the running game.

For their part, Murdock and Johnson, who call themselves friends, say there's not even a hint of jealousy between them. Each helps the other at practice and pulls for him during games. The goal, they profess, isn't to out-do their teammate, but to leave defenses dazed and confused.

Together.

"Everybody," Murdock said, "knows their role."

Keith Niebuhr can be reached at 226-3350 or e-mail niebuhr@sptimes.com

[Last modified October 22, 2004, 01:09:27]


Baseball

  • Cubs name Speier coach at third base

  • Baseball: AL playoffs
  • Sox keep faith -- and their season -- alive
  • Lowe will replace Arroyo in rotation
  • Tabloids let Yanks have it

  • Baseball: NL playoffs
  • Cards cap comeback
  • Beltran is now available to test free-agent market

  • College football
  • Bulls defense focused on rebounding
  • Win, record for W.Va. QB
  • FSU receiver hopes for breakout
  • Got a minute? Jeff Whittaker UF
  • USF at No.15 LOUISVILLE

  • Colleges
  • Veteran warns of fierce Bulldogs

  • Golf
  • Huston discovers his game

  • In brief
  • UF has 3 All-SEC basketball players

  • Motorsports
  • Slowest track can eliminate title hope

  • NFL
  • Attorney: Disputed drug test led to Williams' retirement

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report
  • Do fish feel pain?

  • Preps
  • A home away from home
  • Gators' Bell pulls off upset
  • Plant, Wharton notch titles
  • Tonight's games: Pinelllas
  • Bulldog boys take second at district
  • Faith Warriors scrap to victory
  • Hernando takes care of business
  • Hudson too much for Spongers
  • New Panthers seeking to make their own mark
  • Pollard helps Crusaders nab first title
  • River Ridge steps toward ultimate goal
  • Tigers tout twin threats
  • Tonight's games: Hillsborough
  • Vikings rip title from Warhawks

  • Pro basketball
  • Nuggets star cited for pot

  • Summer Olympics 2004
  • Finally, Hamm can call gold medal his

  • TV/radio
  • Fretful Red Sox fans part of drama
  • Satellite radio supremacy?
  • Bucs
  • Maturing Walker gives Bucs a big boost on O-line
  • Gruden expects Bears' best QB
  •  


    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111