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Billy Murray never has asked for much.

Not from his closest friends, who call him Billy Joe.

Not as a standout basketball player for the Morrilton Devil Dogs and Arkansas Tech University, where he set a freshman single-season scoring record of 608 points that still stands.

Certainly not as a high school basketball coach or athletic director.

Murray has won seven -- yes seven -- state championships, including one at Crawfordsville and six at Earle (all of them since 2008).

To his surprise, he was nominated for the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.

After graduating from Tech, he was drafted by the New Orleans Jazz but passed to take a job as the seventh-grade coach in Morrilton so he could take care of his family.

He has touched countless lives in his 40-year career, all in Arkansas.

Now his hometown is rallying for him.

The 65-year-old Murray needs a liver transplant, and he needs it sooner rather than later.

Thursday night at Morrilton High the boys and girls basketball teams will be playing, beginning at 6 p.m., and Murray will be recognized for his accomplishments and achievements.

The night has two purposes, with the second more important because Murray's kidney problems have become more acute. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences personnel will be at the game with living donor information sheets in case anyone is interested in helping an Arkansas hero.

This certainly will raise awareness of the donor program at UAMS, and it could touch the life of Murray and others in the future.

Murray is the father of four and grandfather to seven.

In 1973, he was named to the Arkansas Gazette's Super Team, along with Marvin Delph, Lanky Wells, Dexter Reed and Chris Bennett, to name a few.

Murray has spent more than 40 years of his life giving back to his home state, and now he needs some help.

***

Arkansas State University senior Omar Bayless has been named to the finalist list for the Biletnikoff Award, given to an outstanding receiver in college football.

Receivers are anyone who caught a pass, not just wide receivers.

Bayless, who leads FBS receivers with 1,262 yards on 73 catches, has some tough competition as nine of the 12 finalists are from Power Five schools, including two from LSU and two from Alabama.

Liberty's Antonio Gandy-Golden and SMU's James Proche also made the finals.

Bayless leads the nation in receiving touchdowns with 14. He is third in total catches.

Voting for the winner began Tuesday.

The award is named in honor of Fred Biletnikoff and presented by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club.

Biletnikoff played for Florida State, then spent 13 years playing professional football in the AFL and NFL. He recorded 589 receptions, 8,974 yards and 76 touchdowns, and he was named Most Valuable Player in Super Bowl XI.

Past winners of the award include Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper and Larry Fitzgerald.

Bayless came into this season with 84 career catches. He still has two games remaining, including Saturday in Jonesboro when the bowl-eligible Red Wolves host Georgia Southern at 2 p.m.

Bayless also has made the honor roll twice.

Fans can vote by going to biletnikoffaward.com/fan-vote. The winner of the fan vote will get one additional vote in the final tally. In 2013, Oregon State's Brandin Cooks won the fan vote, then won the Biletnikoff Award by one vote.

The Biletnikoff Award was first given in 1994, and it has become one of the most respected awards in the sport.

Lou Holtz is the keynote speaker at the Feb. 15 awards banquet in Tallahassee.

Sports on 11/20/2019

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