Some players, like defensive end Gregory Rousseau, make their impact on the field every Saturday for the Miami-Florida Hurricanes. Some players make their impact in the locker room, in practice and the gritty parts of football.
Senior walk-on Jimmy Murphy is the latter.
Throughout his four years in Coral Gables, with two different head coaches, Jimmy Murphy has left his mark on special teams.
Throughout his career, Murphy has just five career rushing yards, most of which came against Bethune-Cookman earlier this season.
In a dominating win for the Hurricanes, Murphy got four late-game carries, totaling 18 total yards and a touchdown.
The touchdown, which is more known for the graceful backflip that drew a 15-yard penalty following the play, was more of a proud moment for Murphy and teammates than it was a game-changing touchdown.
“I’m pretty sure that’s close enough to when your child is born,” Murphy said about Hurricane teammates crowding him following the game. “That’s how much it meant. That was just an unbelievable feeling, and for certain, I’ll have that for life.”
While Jimmy Murphy had a lot to say about his touchdown, his teammates all shared a similar sentiment.
“I said earlier in the week, I was like, ‘If Jimmy gets in, I’m going to be the first one to meet him after the touchdown. I don’t [care] if we get a penalty; I’m running to run my gasser, I don’t care’,” running back DeeJay Dallas said. “And I was the first one to meet Jimmy because—it’s Jimmy, man, it’s Jimmy. That’s my boy. I love Jimmy. I told Jimmy he was going to get one and he got one. So, I’m proud of him.”
The moment built a cult following amongst Hurricanes fans for Jimmy Murphy. It was Rudy-like.
Very few players in the history of Hurricanes football have made such a mark as a walk-on. Jimmy Murphy, however, can say he is one of those players.
At 5-foot-7 and just 184 pounds, Murphy is less than a prototypical running back. He’s the lightest running back on the Hurricanes roster, along with the shortest. His height and weight explain why Murphy was unrecruited in high school.
Despite that, Murphy walked-on to the Hurricanes roster and made his calling on special teams. In 2017, Murphy made an appearance in seven of the Hurricanes 12 games, finishing as one of the team’s best special team tacklers.
His impact, along with his story, earned Murphy a nomination for the Burlsworth Trophy, which is awarded to the most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on.
The journey began two and a half years ago when Murphy tried out to become a Hurricane. Although the chance of making the team from a tryout is slim, Murphy tried out and hoped.
It was not until a few days later when Murphy, now in an Uber to the beach, got the email that he had made the team. Murphy, as he recalled following the Bethune-Cookman game, told the driver to pull off on the side of the highway so he could celebrate.
A few years later, following Mark Richt’s retirement, Murphy, who was set to attend medical school, had no clue if new head coach Manny Diaz would give Murphy a spot on the team.
Murphy, however, gave it one final chance and called Diaz to see if he would have a spot. A few days later, Diaz told Murphy that he would have a spot on the roster. He was a Miami Hurricane... again.
Following the Bethune-Cookman game, Diaz confirmed that there was not a player on the team who did not respect and love Murphy.
“There’s not a guy on our team that doesn’t love Jimmy Murphy and, if you ever come to our games and watch him run out on kickoff, the guy is unbelievable. We knew that, even through training camp, that he was going to score a touchdown in a game, and that will not be the last touchdown that he scores this year,” said Diaz.
Although Murphy’s name will never be put in the ring of honor and his picture will never grace the walls of the Hurricanes facilities, his value to the team is important. The players love him, and so do the fans.