MOREHEAD – The Morehead State University football program will continue to honor the past by naming weekly awards after former standout players. Six of the eight accolades bear the names of MSU alums.
“It is vital for us to acknowledge the contributions of our alumni,” Head Coach Rob Tenyer said. “Continuing this tradition and naming awards after our Eagle greats is just one small token of our appreciation for everything these men have done.”
The Morehead State coaches hand out weekly accolades throughout the season to the Offensive Most Valuable Player (Tommie Gray), Defensive MVP (Charlie Byrd), Special Forces MVP (Toby Moeves) Big Stick/Big Sack (Tom Warren), Big Block (Paul Connor) and Game Breaker (Howard Murphy).
The Eagle staff members also bestow accolades to the Offensive and Defensive Scout Team Players of the Week.
Gray was a standout halfback from 1964-67 and earned the OVC Player of the Year honor in 1966 when he rushed for a then-MSU record 14 touchdowns. Gray still ranks ninth in program history with 1,604 career rushing yards. He held numerous records when he finished his career, including best rushing average for a career (5.6 yards per attempt), most points scored in a career (172), most touchdowns in a career (28), best punt return average in a season (23.5 yards per return) and longest fumble return (65 yards). Gray was selected in the 1968 National Football League draft in the eighth round by the San Francisco 49ers. He was inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1986.
A three-time Football Gazette First-Team All-American, Byrd was also named First-Team All-Pioneer Football League South in 2002, 2003 and 2004. In 2002, he totaled the fourth highest single-season interception total in program history with six. Byrd also concluded his career with 12 interceptions for more than 200 return yards. He also amassed more than 150 career tackles. Byrd guided the Eagles to PFL South Division titles in 2002, 2003, and 2004. He is currently a strength and conditioning coach for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints.
Moeves was the 2001 Football Gazette I-AA Mid-Major Specialist of the Year after averaging 30.7 yards per kickoff return with one touchdown. He was also tabbed First-Team All-American as a return specialist and wide receiver by Football Gazette and the Sports Network. Moeves ranks seventh in program history with 1,684 career receiving yards, including a team-high 808 – to go along with five touchdowns – in 2001. He helped lead the Eagles to four straight winning seasons and 26 victories in his career from 1998-2001.
Warren, a defensive stalwart from 1976-79, holds the Morehead State career record for defensive plays made with 412. He also ranks among the best tacklers in program history with more than 300, including a team-best 129 both in 1977 and 1979.
Connor was an all-star offensive tackle from 1964-67. He was named First-Team All-OVC following the 1966 season when he helped lead the Eagles to an OVC Championship. He blocked for fellow award namesake Tommie Gray. Following his time at Morehead State, Conner was a long-time athletic director and coach at Jesup (Ga.) High School, his hometown. He is set to be inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame at Homecoming this season.
Murphy, the first African-American athlete to play football at Morehead State, was a standout running back from 1959-62. He was inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990. Murphy rushed for 1,447 yards and 13 touchdowns in his time at MSU. He was selected First-Team All-OVC in 1962 and Second-Team All-OVC in 1961 when he paced the conference with 6.3 yards per carry. He was also an accomplished track athlete, setting an OVC record with a time of 9.7 in the 100-meter dash.
Morehead State will open the 2016 season on Sept. 3 at James Madison. The home opener is set for Sept. 10 versus VMI.