Tyler Junior College sophomore Shaquille Murray-Lawrence has never been to Las Vegas, but he knows what it is like to hit the jackpot.
Murray-Lawrence signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Nevada, Las Vegas during a ceremony on Friday at the TJC field house.
After playing behind a couple of all-conference running backs, Murray-Lawrence thought his chances of going to the next level might be limited.
But with the help of head coach Danny Palmer and offensive coordinator and associate head coach Ryan Mahon, Murray-Lawrence got his name circulated and UNLV became interested.
"We sent film to UNLV and (Rebels coach Bobby Hauck) called coach Palmer," said Murray-Lawrence, who attended Sir Wilfrid Laurier High School in Toronto. "After they talked, coach Hauck called me and offered me a chance to go to UNLV.
"I am very excited about the opportunity to play for UNLV and to compete on the next level."
Murray-Lawrence rushed for 211 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries for the Apaches last season.
The 5-6 184-pounder came to TJC after first attending Lon Morris College. In 2011, he played for the Bearcats, but after financial trouble forced the Jacksonville school to close, Murray-Lawrence moved a few miles north to Tyler.
"It was great coming to Tyler," he said. "I'm thankful coach Palmer gave me the opportunity to play when Lon Morris closed.
"I love TJC. I love everyone here. The coaching was great."
Palmer was happy Murray-Lawrence has the chance to play Division I. UNLV is in the Mountain West.
"Shaquille played well when he got in the games," Palmer said. "The reason why Division I schools are interested in him, he is highly talented. He is very much like Akeem Shavers' (standout at Purdue after attending TJC) story. Akeem was not a starter here, but he took care of his academics.
"Shaquille took care of his academics will be graduating from TJC and will be at UNLV in the summer."