Murphy likes chances at UT-Martin

Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Marshall County High School's Jay Murphy (front row, center) signed a letter of intent to play football at UT-Martin. Also pictured with Murphy are (front row, left to right) mother Roxie Garcia, father Tim Murphy, (back row, left to right) grandfather Bill Nance, sister-in-law Letty Murphy, brother Michael Murphy, MCHS football coach Aaron Pitts, and grandmother Dorothy Nance. Photo by Louis Scheuchenzuber

Marshall County High School senior lineman Jay Murphy followed his older brother Michael into the college football ranks on Wednesday morning when he signed a letter of intent in the MCHS auditorium to play at the University of Tennessee-Martin.

Murphy had originally committed to Tennessee State University last April and was being recruited by the Tigers as center, but the recruiting process took a late twist for the Marshall County standout when UT-Martin managed to sway him towards their program during an official visit 10 days ago.

Visit changes mind

Although Murphy felt bad about informing the TSU coaching staff of his change of heart, he believed that he would have a better chance to succeed at UT-Martin where he is being recruited as a nose guard.

"Telling TSU's coaches that I had decommitted was probably the hardest thing I had ever done because they had been like family to me," said Murphy. " The coaches at UT-Martin have a great thing going there and I wanted to be a part of it. At first I wanted to play on the offensive line, but I think (defensive line) coach (Tray) Scott is going to do a better job of developing me as a player and as a man."

Adding to the drama is the fact that his brother Michael played for TSU from 2009-13 and was a three-year starter for the Tigers at defensive tackle.

Brother's support

"My brother played at TSU and he's my role model. It was tough to decommit because I felt that I had burnt some bridges there, but I have the utmost respect for TSU," said Murphy. "My brother supported me. He said at the end of the day he wanted me to be happy for the next four years."

Murphy plans to major in criminal justice at UT-Martin and chose the Skyhawks over offers from TSU and Carson-Newman while also receiving serious interest from Memphis, UT-Chattanooga, Tennessee Tech, and Austin Peay.

"As soon as I stepped on their campus, I knew this was where I wanted to be. I think UT-Martin is just a better overall fit for me and their criminal justice department is better too," said Murphy.

Years as Tiger

A four-year starter for Marshall County along the offensive and defensive lines, Murphy was a two-time All-District selection and helped MCHS reach the playoffs all four seasons that he suited up for the Tigers. Murphy recorded 56 tackles and one sack as a junior before registering a team leading 108 tackles and five sacks during his senior campaign.

"Jay was one of the key pieces of our team because everything starts up front," said Marshall County coach Aaron Pitts. "He knew that he was going to have to play both ways the last couple of years and did well for us. He's a great kid and a great person and I'm proud of him. We're all happy for him."

Standing at 6'3" and weighing 320 pounds, Murphy has the ideal frame to anchor UT-Martin's 3-4 defense and is a candidate to see the field early in his career.

Chance to play

"They told me that I have a chance to play immediately and that my playing time would be determined by how hard I work. I think that shows how much belief that they have in me," said Murphy.

With TSU and UT-Martin both being members of the Ohio Valley Conference, Murphy will get a chance to prove on the field that he made the right choice for the next four years.