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ICYMI: Murphy makes the most of unexpected opportunity

Murphy be like...


But really, here's the piece I wrote on Murphy's journey from backup, backup, backup, backup, backup to No. 20 Florida's unlikely starter.

GAINESVILLE -- Tyler Murphy never pictured himself standing at a podium and addressing the media after a collegiate game.

Will Muschamp never did either.

Just last spring, as Jeff Driskel -- No. 20’s Florida’s incumbent starter now sidelined for the season with a broken leg -- and Jacoby Brissett, a recent North Carolina State transfer, battled for Florida’s starting job, Muschamp was asked about Murphy’s potential prospects in the quarterback competition.

“Right now, none,” Muschamp said.

But circumstances can change dramatically in college football.

Brissett transferred this offseason, thrusting Murphy into Florida’s definitive backup role. Then, after Driskel went down early in the first quarter of Saturday’s win over Tennessee, suddenly, unexpectedly, it was Murphy’s turn. 

“It was in the back of my mind that I might never play,” he said. “People wanted me to change positions. I like playing quarterback. I had people telling me to transfer. It’s something I considered. But my dad encouraged me to stay.”

For at least one day, the Gator fasn were quite thankful.

Between all the laughable follies and snafus in the first half of Florida’s 31-17 victory, Murphy -- a redshirt junior -- emerged as an unlikely hero.

He threw for 134 yards and a touchdown, while adding another 84 yards and a score on the ground. He was confident, poised, slippery and displayed no signs of never taking a meaningful collegiate snap.

"I told our team what a great example he is," Muschamp said. "There's not many guys like that in this society. Everybody wants it now. He's a guy that's worked extremely hard and he cashed in his opportunity today. We look forward to seeing him play the rest of the year."

Murphy will make his first career start next weekend on the road at Kentucky.

“It wasn’t the way I wanted it, but an opportunity is an opportunity,” Murphy said.

According to Murphy, he never left Gainesville because he loves Florida -- the school, his friends and now, his team.

His route to UF was as improbable as Saturday’s performance. An unheralded two-star prospect, Murphy essentially recruited the Gators -- not the other way around. The former Temple commit sent film to ex-UF coaches Urban Meyer and Steve Addazio. Florida’s offensive gurus were impressed and Murphy was a late edition to the 2010 signing class.

Despite sitting behind as many as five quarterbacks -- Driskel, Brissett, John Brantley, Jordan Reed and Trey Burton -- Murphy’s attitude never wavered. Neither did his commitment to studying, practicing and always staying ready.

“He’s selfless and that’s his greatest attribute,” center Jonotthan Harrison said. “That’s what I love about him.”

There’s a chance Murphy’s performance was an anomaly. A red herring to the Gators faithful. Driskel had his career-day (in 2012) against Tennessee’s abominable defense too.

But this much is clear: Saturday -- the fans chanting his name, the locker room crowd surfing -- will always be Murphy’s day. His teammates love him and appear ready go to battle with him.

“We have all the faith, all the trust in Tyler Murphy,” Harrison said. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton


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