A 66-yard touchdown run is a highlight. A 66-yard QB scramble with three minutes left to seal an upset victory over the No. 9 team in the country is a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
But what Tyler Murphy remembers the most from his one year as quarterback of the Boston College football team is something a little less electrifying than his touchdown run: the locker room after defeating Virginia Tech on the road to become bowl eligible.
“There were a lot of hugs, and it was very joyful,” Murphy said. “It’s hard to put into words.”
While everyone remembers Murphy’s game-clinching run against the University of Southern California Trojans, few realize that Murphy also sealed the victory over Virginia Tech with an eerily similar 57-yard run with three minutes left. In both instances, Murphy rolled toward the sideline and then turned downfield in an instant, going into a dead sprint past defenders and finding the endzone. The plays looked the same, but they had different meanings.
That run against Virginia Tech—far from being a special, personal moment—was the bigger run in Murphy’s eyes, because that’s the one that ultimately helps players that aren’t even with the team yet. Bowl eligibility means a national spotlight on T.V. National spotlight means better recruiting and a stronger program for the future.
Murphy should be remembered for what he did on the bleak day in Blacksburg, Va. on Halloween weekend. The USC upset put a national spotlight on the program, but the Virginia Tech win symbolizes something necessary. Every team wants upsets, but every program needs bowl games.
That’s the legacy of Murphy: for every highlight-reel play that Murphy put up in big games, he pulled off equally impressive plays when it mattered the most for the program, and that’s what he wants you to remember.
Murphy’s journey to BC was not as smooth as his impressive running style.
After only one standout season in high school, he signed with Temple, but de-committed and instead went to the University of Florida after a late offer. There, he rode the bench among a crowded quarterback depth chart. He finally grabbed the starting role when starter Jeff Driskel went down with an injury.
He only started six games in Gainesville, Fla. though, until an injury of his own sidelined him for the remainder of his four years.
After graduating, Murphy transferred to BC, where he would team up with the man who recruited him, former Florida offensive coordinator and current Eagles head coach, Steve Addazio.
Ultimately, his prior experience with Addazio, Frank Piraino, head strength and conditioning coach, and Justin Frye, offensive line coach — all of whom had coached previously at Florida—made the process easier and allowed Murphy to immediately dive into pre-season practices and focus on the offense of which he would soon be at the helm.
Murphy immediately fit in with the seniors, who welcomed the quarterback as the new face of the program. At Chestnut Hill, Murphy had to be a star, but he had other things on his mind as a fifth-year transfer. While not officially a captain, he saw himself as one.
“I was just trying to find anyway that I could to help the team,” Murphy said, mentioning his experience in the SEC conference.
A few years ago, he was rightfully more focused on his own game as he looked to win and hold onto a starting position with the Gators. It took an individual effort—putting in the extra effort in the film room, taking extra reps—to climb the depth chart.
But when he began at BC, Murphy expanded his focus as new dimensions to his football career popped up. On the field, he had to gel with a new offensive unit as well as push the younger guys to step up their game. Off the field, he had to keep an eye out for the freshmen as they adjusted to the college game.
Part of his legacy is this up-and-down journey, in which he stayed humble, worked hard, and eventually became a leader of a team that he had wanted to play for since watching Matt Ryan.
Andre Williams single-handedly made Alumni Stadium come to life as he marched toward the Doak Walker Award. While Williams’ tremendous Heisman-worthy season brought new energy and attention to the program after dismal years under Frank Spaziani, it left a big void after he graduated last spring.
A let down—how could anyone possibly fill the shoes of a Heisman candidate—was almost certain, since Murphy was still a big question mark. On top of all the other leadership roles, Murphy then had to become the stud.
In that department, Murphy shattered all expectations. He broke the ACC’s single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,079. To top that, he broke Doug Flutie’s career quarterback rushing record—over four years—with 965 yards, passing the mark in only nine games.
Murphy’s modesty, however, deflects any direct comparisons between him and the current New York Giants running back.
“To top what Andre did would be very difficult,” Murphy said. “I was more focused on being a good teammate, and it just so happened to be that my role on offense was to help the run game.”
Genuine gratitude, along with humility, in Murphy’s voice pours into his account of this past season.
All of his stats and achievements on the field mean a lot for Murphy’s future. He is eagerly awaiting the upcoming NFL Draft, where he hopes to hear his name announced. A positional switch has momentarily pushed his focus back onto himself as he looks to build off his Pro Day and look at the possibility of free agency. His athleticism has drawn interest from pro scouts, but a call on draft day is far from guaranteed.
But as with most answers that Murphy gives, the attention is diverted off of his potential NFL career back onto the game as a whole.
“I have the opportunity to play the game that I love, but if that doesn’t work out, I’m looking to continue to stay around the game,” Murphy said. “Football has done a lot for me. It’s a game where you can reach out to a lot of people.”
Murphy’s career has come full circle. A breakout season in high school brought him to Florida, and he eventually made his way back to the school that first interested him. And now a breakout year this past fall has brought Murphy into the NFL conversation. While he always worked hard and remained humble as he progressed, his mindset transformed from a hunt for 66-yard, highlight reel touchdowns into a quest for those joyous hugs in the locker room.
The legacy from this season may always be that USC upset, but look towards Murphy’s three-touchdown performance against Virginia Tech and you’ll see what he strives for when playing the game he loves.
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Senior Staff