I recently had the pleasure to meet, interview and hangout with Jimmy Murphy. A transcending figure, Murphy was an almost occult phenomenon and one of the few bright spots from the 2019 season.
Murphy is a self reported 5’7” high school wrestler from Avon Connecticut. You noticed immediately that he did not possess that prototypical size you would customarily see with division one athletes. (In full disclosure I am 6’3” 245 pounds and far right in that picture)
MY GOODNESS!!!!!! This show was BRILLIANT. We can’t wait for everyone to join in on the fun tomorrow AM.— Orange Bowl Boys (@OrangeBowlBoys) February 12, 2020
THANK YOU @JimMurphy36
Was a true pleasure #OBB #canes #canesfam #miami #hurricanes #gocanes pic.twitter.com/5g5wrtfTzx
But size was never going to get in the way of Murphy who declared, “I obviously knew I didn’t fit the part of a division one mold. I think that’s why I loved it the most.” As the interview would unfold his infectious and positive nature was like a lighthouse cutting through the void of frequent negatively inhabited daily nuance.
There was his chronicled journey prior to enrolling at the University of Miami, one in which he would initially have his Hurricane application turned down. His prep school shut down the football program and he encountered a two month hiatus while he tried to unsuccessfully enroll at Arizona State and Rutgers.
“I need to leave, I got to go chase this dream.” Murphy told his quartermaster at prep school. There was also a stop at Wagner College in Staten Island, New York. Coaches promised him a scholarship after performing really well in the spring but in the fall that promise faltered. They renegotiated that stance and left Murphy, who was unable to afford the school, to go back to work with his dad’s asphalt company.
Thank you, senior Jimmy Murphy!— GO ‘CANES! (@83_87_89_91_01) November 6, 2019
Forever a Miami Hurricane. pic.twitter.com/e2mHTWSyPS
“When I tell you I’m persistent my family will laugh and say that’s an understatement.” After finally gaining admissions to the University of Miami, Murphy recounted that he was practically living at the Hecht Center just for a chance to join the team as a walk on.
The receptionist went as far as giving him fake coach emails to deter him but that did not stop Murphy from explaining “I think I emailed those things about sixty times-I would go back every day with a goal to see a coach.”
Former Hurricane tight ends coach Todd Hartley was that coach. After staring the diminutive nuance up and down with eagle eye efficiency (Don’t worry we called Jimmy a gnat) Hartley asked the obvious. “You sure you can play football?”
Miami Hurricanes DB and special teams contributor Jimmy Murphy on getting put on scholarship in October and then having it renewed for this upcoming season. pic.twitter.com/uzmKZ8bmkV— David Furones (@DavidFurones_) July 11, 2019
With a walk on try out date in hand, Murphy would have his girlfriend time him and train constantly. He praised his support structure and knew how incredibly fortunate he was just to have the opportunity to even try out.
The staff were initially callous and tight lipped after the tryout. The staff advised individuals who attended that they would only get in touch if they made the team. Murphy who just guzzled six cups of coffee and wanted to diffuse at South Beach was in an Uber when he received that fortuitous email.
“Get me out of the car now sir, I can’t believe I am on the team.” Murphy was so excited he essentially screamed at the Uber driver to just let him out. His girlfriend also pleaded with the driver to just stop the car. Murphy’s impulse was to just free the shackles of a confined car in that moment. It was similar to escaping the shackles of doubt that naysayers no doubt placed on him during his life.
He is not Rudy. Jimmy Murphy even went on to say in the interview when we tried to make the comparison that “Rudy was offsides.” We chuckled in studio but you got the sense Murphy took a little offense to that particular figurative doppelganger.
Murphy was a valued member on the special teams front. He remembered the one missed tackle in his career and recounted the event with absolute detail and precision. That is it. One. One missed tackle. This wasn’t a liability on the field or some hand me out by a coach when the game was out of hand.
Murphy was a regular contributor who did it day in and day out. The Miami Hurricane’s coaching staff put him out there when it mattered. In that regard you are right Jimmy. You were never Rudy. You were better.
At the end of the interview I couldn’t help but smile. It was one of those moments that you look at a kid and you realize he will be fine whatever he decides to do in life. Perseverance that genuine and bold is boundless and not cornered to just one area in an individual's life. Murphy knew he was not the biggest guy in the room but it didn’t matter. It never did.