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Steelers UDFA Murphy Took The Scenic Route On Way To NFL

When Boston College quarterback, Tyler Murphy, was a youngster, he idolized former Boston College and now Atlanta Falcons star, Matt Ryan. He eventually landed at the college, but not with a bunch of stars or the “big man on campus” label like a lot of today’s hot shot recruits.

In fact, he rarely garnered much interest at all until his senior year at Wethersfield High School in Connecticut. Now, his athleticism is off the charts, as evidenced by his gold medal performance in the triple jump, with a jump of 46-feet, 7-inches at the state track meet. However, one game in particular stands out like a sore thumb, one that opened the eyes of those same recruiters who had previously passed him over.

Murphy, who was named an all-state return man, scorched Tolland High School with a video game-like 6 touchdowns, including one passing, three rushing, and two on returns. In the eyes of Wethersfield head coach John Campanello, the game should come with an asterisk though.

“And that doesn’t count the interception he returned for a touchdown that got called back on a penalty,” Campanello said, according to Jackie MacMullan, an ESPNBoston.com writer. 

With such versatility, coaches came clamp ring for him to play a multitude of positions, from running back to wide receiver to even safety.

“It was a little disappointing,” Tyler’s father, Peter, said, according to MacMullan. “Tyler was not a defensive player. I’m 54 years old and I could probably beat my son on a post play.”

Murphy had his heart set on playing quarterback, and although former Temple head coach Al Golden told Murphy it was possible, the only school that offered him exclusively at the position was Fordham. His dream was to play at Boston College, but they didn’t offer as much as a sniff.

Out of nowhere, former Florida Gators boss, Urban Meyer, came calling, at the advice of his offensive coordinator, Steve Addazio, who’s a Connecticut native and was very impressed with Murphy’s tape. To go from receiving mild interest to getting a call from the coach of a national championship-winning team and a Heisman Trophy winner in Tim Tebow was surreal for Murphy.

“It just blew up,” Murphy said, according to MacMullan. “I was kind of a like a deer in the headlights. I wasn’t used to that kind of attention.”

He committed to the Gators, but it wasn’t meant to be, as a domino effect of misfortunes followed. Meyer took a leave of absence, and Addazio, the reason Murphy was even there, followed. He kept his head on straight though and kept working, eventually getting playing time due to an injury to starter Jeff Driskel.

He played very well, leading the team to three consecutive wins, but after injuring his shoulder during a loss to LSU, he clearly wasn’t the same, as the team lost many games down the stretch with him under center. After the season, and now a graduate student, Murphy could transfer wherever he pleased and not worry about sitting out.

Where else did he choose but Boston College, now led by his old friend, Steve Addazio. As far as his passing stats in his one season there, they were nothing to really wrote home about. However, it was his magical feet that got him picked up as an UDFA signing of the Pittsburgh Steelers after the draft. He notched 1,079 yards rushing, a single-season record in the Atlantic Coast Conference, as well as shattering Boston College’s career rushing record by a quarterback. Here’s the kicker though, he set the record (965 yards) in nine games, while the previous record-holder, Doug Flutie, racked up his 939 yards over four years.

“He’s a guy who can beat you with his feet, he throws a great ball and he loves football,” Addazio said.  “I think you haven’t seen the best of him yet.”

Perhaps we haven’t, only this time it’ll be in the black and gold of the Steelers. The team has had its fair share of “slashes” before such as Kordell Stewart, Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El. It’s obvious if Murphy is to make the roster, or even the practice squad, it’s utilizing his speed and his 6-foot-2, 213-pound frame as a multidimensional threat.

“I hope someone gives him a chance,” Addazio said, wishing he had more time with Murphy instead of one season. “He’s a great athlete, a great kid, and I see so many of these guys that get opportunities who are marginal guys.”

Although he took the road less traveled, Murphy got his wish to play for BC and now he’s on the doorstep of an even bigger dream.

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