Michael Murphy's signing a long time coming for Plant coach
Plant linebacker Michael Murphy started hanging around Panther football when he was just 7 years old, helping coach Robert Weiner with odd jobs around the field on practice and game days.
“I was the kid who, during halftime, when /coach was giving his speech, I would run outside, look at the scoreboard, run back in and tell Coach how much time he had left,” Michael said. “He’d look down at me and say, ‘How much time we got, Murph?’ ‘Little Murph,’ at that time.”
On Wednesday, “Little Murphy,” as Weiner used to know him, signed his letter of intent to play college football at Columbia University. For Weiner, the moment was a long time coming.
Weiner met Michael’s father, Jeff Murphy, when they were second-graders at St. Mary’s in South Tampa. They were doubles partners in tennis and went on to become best friends at Jesuit High School, where they both graduated in 1983.
Weiner was at the hospital when Michael was born in 1997. And ever since, Weiner said, Murphy’s been a source of joy for everybody around him, particularly his teammates.
“Even from that moment, Michael makes everybody around him smile. He is a joyful person,” Weiner said. “When he said, ‘Life is good’ at the beginning (of his speech), that’s not lip service. Life is good for Michael Murphy, and even when it’s not good he turns it into something good.”
Murphy, who recorded 57 tackles while scoring two touchdowns on offense this season at Plant, will follow in the footsteps of his father, who also played Ivy League football at the University of Pennsylvania. Jeff Murphy has coached tight ends at Plant since 2004, but the longtime Panther said he doesn’t know if any season can top the last four he had alongside his best friend and his son.
“I don’t know if I can coach anymore after these last four years, it’s been so wonderful,” Murphy said. “Just having a man who I know so well and respect so much teach my son is just a pleasure.”
In addition to Murphy, eight other athletes signed at One Buc Place, including football players Scoop Bradshaw (Syracuse), Pat Cooper (Georgia Military Institute), Felipe Fernandez (Ohio), Sean Kissel (Yale), Isaiah Ntukogu (Kentucky Wesleyan College), Bo Peek (Stanford), Joe Ryan (United States Military Academy at West Point) and soccer players Emily Evangelista (Northeastern University) and Rebekah McFadden (University of North Carolina at Greensboro).
Rex Culpepper (Syracuse) was also part of the Panthers' signing class, but he enrolled in January and wasn’t in attendance.