Months after a storybook season in which he helped the Florida Gators win their second national title in the past three years, Louis Murphy still is learning to cope with the blitz of his newfound fame.
Right now it seems everyone — the NFL, reporters, fans — want a piece of him. He has talked to agents, visited eight NFL teams who are interested in possibly drafting him and done countless media interviews. On Thursday, he flew to Washington with his former Florida Gators teammates to meet President Barack Obama.
"It really has been a whirlwind," Louis Murphy said. "The past five months have gone by in the blink of an eye. Most of that has just been getting ready for the NFL draft."
Louis Murphy, a Lakewood graduate, is projected to be drafted in the first three rounds. Whenever he is selected, it will officially end the whirlwind courtship, the endless phone calls, the team visits, the constant questions, and some of the pressure.
He also will earn a spot alongside Ernest Givins, Pat Terrell, William Floyd and Tom Carter, among others, in the pantheon of former Spartans who have been drafted.
"I'm humbled to even be mentioned with those guys," Murphy said. "It's the ultimate dream growing up in St. Petersburg to be drafted in the NFL."
Five years ago, all Murphy wanted was to latch on with a Division I college program. At that time, Lakewood was not among the upper echelon of Pinellas County programs, going a combined 2-18 his junior and senior seasons.
So Murphy took it upon himself to get noticed. He spent the summer of 2004 attending football camps across the country.
Florida was the only big-time program to offer a scholarship.
In his first two seasons with the Gators, Murphy caught just two passes. But his production skyrocketed the last two years. As a junior, Murphy caught 37 passes for 588 yards and five touchdowns. Last year as a senior, Murphy led Florida with 38 receptions for 655 yards and seven touchdowns.
"I feel like the odds have always been somewhat against me," Murphy said. "We just don't get that much love in St. Petersburg. I really had to prove I could play. I think my stats speak for themselves."
Murphy has always displayed self-assuredness. Take his sophomore year at Lakewood, when he boasted to reporters before the Class 3A state track meet that he and his teammates were going to win the 4x100 meter relay.
Sure enough, the Spartans did.
"I think my son has always had confidence," said Rev. Louis Murphy Sr., a pastor at Mount Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church. "I played, and I was probably a little cocky back in those days. It's all part of it. I think Louis will eventually mellow out."
Murphy plans a low-key approach for the draft. He said he'll watch his nephew at a track meet, then head to his father's house for a cookout.
"I'm a little nervous waiting to be selected," Murphy said. "But I know I'm ready."