NASHVILLE, Tenn. —** Titans running backs coach Sylvester Croom knew of DeMarco Murray before the team traded for him in March, but he didn't know him personally.
In three months, Croom has been blown away by Murray's ability, attitude, and leadership skills.
And Croom, an NFL assistant 24 seasons and a former head coach at Mississippi State, has been around a few running backs in his day.
"Let me tell you something,'' Croom said after the team's minicamp practice on Tuesday. "This guy is a good football player, but he is a better human being than he is a football player. His professionalism, and his work ethic. I feel really fortunate to be able to work with him.
"I'm telling you, he's a coach's dream."
Back in March, the Titans traded for Murray, the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year in 2014 with the Dallas Cowboys who played last season with the Eagles.
Croom said he was immediately impressed with Murray. When the team drafted former Alabama running back Derrick Henry, last year's Heisman Trophy winner, in the NFL Draft, he saw another side of Murray.
And he became even more impressed. Prior to joining the Titans, Croom served as either running backs coach or offensive coordinator with the Jaguars, Rams, Lions, Packers, Chargers, Colts and Buccaneers in the NFL, in addition to the job at Mississippi State.
Croom has coached backs like Barry Sanders, Chris Johnson and Steven Jackson during his career.
"He is a first-class person,'' Croom said of Murray. "His talent is obvious, and this guy has proven he can play at a high level in the National Football League. But what you don't know all the time is: What kind of man is he? And he is a full-grown man. And he is a classy man.
New Titans RB DeMarco Murray debuts his #29 jersey. (Photos: Terry Wyatt)
"I've always had a lot of respect for him, but the way he has handled himself (with Derrick), his leadership and the way he talks to other guys...And the great thing about him is when he's made mistakes, he's owned up to them quickly. But with his experience, he still attacks it as a rookie like he is trying to learn every little detail. He strives for perfection every day."
Murray led the NFL and set franchise records in Dallas in rushing yards (1,845), and scrimmage yards (2,261) during the 2014 season. He scored 13 touchdowns on 392 carries in 2014, an average of 115.3 yards per game that season, when he posted 12 100-yard games.
In his lone season with the Eagles last year, Murray ran for 702 yards and six touchdowns on just 193 carries.
Croom believes Murray will make a big impact in 2016 with the Titans.
Already, he's made his presence known in the locker room.
"He's not a boisterous person,'' Croom said of Murray. "First of all, he leads by example. But when something needs to be said, he says it. He does things the right way. He is not about tearing people down, he is about building guys up.
"He is a great, great pro, and he is going to make this team better. Really, he already has."
New Titans RB DeMarco Murray is introduced to media at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)