Murphy bypassed those local attractions in favor of an impromptu trip to Stanford. He visited The Farm from Wednesday, Apr. 6 – Friday, Apr. 8, after returning home from a Junior Day trip to Oregon the previous weekend.
“Pretty much right when I got back [from Oregon], I looked at Stanford’s spring practice dates and I noticed it was the last week of practices,” Murphy said. “I wanted to check it out one more time and see how the whole team progressed throughout the beginning of spring practice and how they adjusted to the new coaches.”
As the lone Cardinal recruit on campus, Murphy had ample opportunity to get acclimated with Stanford on a deeper level.
“It was only me up there, so I think it was a little more intimate,” Murphy said. “I got to hang out with the coaches a lot. I got to hang out with the offensive line coaches, I talked to Coach Shaw for quite a bit, Coach Polian. I also got to sit in one of the classes. I got to sit in a couple of offensive line meetings. I got to see the campus a little more. I got a firsthand look of watching the team workout in the weight room, got to stay with one of the players overnight [Jonathan Martin]. I got a pretty good feel or the whole program and how they do things.”
Naturally, Murphy had plenty of opportunity to observe and interact with Stanford’s two offensive line coaches, Mike Bloomgren and Ron Crook.
Although Crook was still at Harvard when Murphy previously visited Stanford, the four-star offensive lineman – and his family - know Crook well.
“Me and my family actually have a pretty good relationship with Coach Crook because my brother [plays football at] Harvard,” Murphy said. “We knew him because he recruited my brother and we knew him from being the offensive line coach. We knew him pretty well, but it was nice getting to see him again and catching up.”
Murphy’s meeting with head coach David Shaw focused more on life outside of football.
“Coach Shaw’s a really cool guy to talk to, he’s real approachable,” Murphy said. “We were just talking about his family life a little bit and football-wise why he likes college football and what he likes about Stanford and what he thinks sticks out comparing to a normal college and why I’d be a good fit there and stuff.”
Of course a large component to feeling a “good fit” to a program is a good bond with the players. Murphy feels Stanford satisfies that criterion well.
“I like them a lot,” Murphy said. “I think I can relate to them pretty well because they’re all pretty good students and they’re all just normal kids loving football and just having fun.
“I got to pretty much live a day in like a life of a Stanford football player, so it was pretty nice, seeing what they do every day and seeing if I could fit into that and enjoy that for four or five years.”
Murphy’s comfort could be Stanford’s gain, and in a big way. One of the truly elite recruits Stanford is after this cycle, Murphy is currently ranked No. 34 in the nation by Scout.com (and No. 9 in the country by 247sports.com, another prominent recruiting service). Not since 2004, when Alex Fletcher gained five-star designation, has Stanford inked such a touted prospect as Murphy. (Class of 2002 signees Trent Edwards and Julian Jenkins also rank among the most highly ranked players Stanford has signed. Conversely, Andrew Luck and Shayne Skov were were also five-star prospects, but were ranked 47 and 40, respectively, in the country.)
Of course, there will be hefty competition. Murphy has offers from the entire Pac-12, in addition to Florida, Auburn, and Notre Dame. Nonetheless, Murphy currently lists the Cardinal among his top-three choices, although he notes that could change.
“The schools that I’ve visited so far like USC, Stanford, Oregon, they’re all (standing) out to me because of what they have to offer,” Murphy said. “That doesn’t really say that some other school doesn’t have something equal, or even better, than what they have to offer, I just haven’t seen it up close yet and haven’t been exposed to it.
“Those three sticking out are probably Stanford, USC and Oregon, so far.”
Proof of Murphy’s regard for the Cardinal lies in his plan to begin Stanford’s rigorous admissions process.
“I’ve talked to one of the coaches who’s the big academic/admissions guy and he pretty much told me all I need to do in the classroom, classes for next year for admittance in the school,” Murphy said. “He makes it sound like I should be able to be admitted by summer if all goes to plan, so that should be pretty cool.
“I think I’ll probably start filling [an application] out pretty soon. There’s a few essays on it and a few other steps. I’ll probably want to get it pretty soon and start filling it out.”
After a relatively hectic travel schedule throughout the late winter and early spring, Murphy now plans to slow down the recruiting process and focus on his top few schools.
“I don’t have any more unofficials planned right now,” Murphy said. “I might get up to like a USC scrimmage or something just because they’re so local. Big trips, I think I’ve made plenty of those so far. I’m still looking at all these schools, maybe by summer narrow it down to a handful. I’m going to go to a few camps of the schools I’m interested in, kind of get a feel for them and try to get a feel for the coaching staff and maybe go on a few officials next year to check out a place for real and hopefully make my decision then.”
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are
missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our
award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in
Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!