Cole Murphy took the path less traveled on his way to becoming a successful college football player. While many of his teammates and opponents have been playing football for longer than they can remember (insert concussion joke here), Murphy didn’t start putting on the pads until his high school years. Now, he’s largely considered one of the best kickers in the country.
On Thursday, Murphy was named to the Lou Groza Award watch list. He’s no stranger to the honor; last year the walk-on was a semifinalist for the award given to the nation’s best kicker. Since arriving at Syracuse, Murphy has earned a scholarship and the respect of opposing teams; he went 13-16 in field goal attempts last year and hit two from 50 yards. The Fizz caught up with Murphy yesterday and talked to him about the Lou Groza Award and how he’s progressed since his walk-on days.
Orange Fizz: “When did you first hear about being named to the Lou Groza Award watch list, and what was your first reaction?
Cole Murphy: “I originally heard this morning. I got a call from a teammate congratulating me on my achievement. I had no clue what he was talking about, and he had to tell me what I was being recognized for. Being a semi-finalist for the award last year, I immediately realized what he was talking about. I was ecstatic when I first heard, and I ran to the computer to see if it was true.”
OF: “You just mentioned how you were a semifinalist for this award in your freshman year, and now you’re back in the running this year. Did you think any sort of recognition like this would be coming your way when you started at Syracuse last season?”
CM: “Not one bit. Being a walk-on, you don’t really expect to see the field or be nominated for such a prestigious award. Even today I’m still thankful for the opportunity I had last year to take the starting spot. It’s my goal this year to win the Groza and in order to do that I have to do even better than last year. Especially now that 7 of the kickers on the watch list are from the ACC. Even one bad day would mean I could let it slip.”
OF: “We know what your individual goals for the season are now, but what are your expectations for this year’s team as a whole?”
CM: “This year I expect us to do very well. We have a very talented group of athletes as well as our great coaching staff. I think it is really up to us; whether we want to put the work in to be great.”
OF: “Lou Groza kicked for the Cleveland Browns, but also played offensive tackle. How do you think you’d fare on the line?”
CM: “I’d be eaten alive. Even now I don’t think I could compete with the lineman at my old high school. I’d get pancaked every play, guaranteed. Mainly due to the fact that I’m 100-125 lbs lighter.”
Luckily for Murphy, Coach Scott Shafer already has plenty of linemen. He and the rest of the Orange start their season on September 4 against Road Island in the Carrier Dome.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson