For a guy who only has one career start at quarterback, Bryce Murphy enters the spring practice session with a lot of expectations.
Many of the positions on the Midlothian depth chart are fluid and can change at any given moment. Murphy’s really isn’t. He’s expected to be the starter. He’s expected to be a leader. He expects it of himself and the coaches expect it of him.
No pressure, right?
“It sounds good. I’ve got to approach it as well as I can, have the guys behind me and just learn what we’re doing,” Murphy said. “We have a whole totally new offense this year. I’m just going to go into it with an open mind and just get it done, get the job done.”
Last fall, Murphy was the back-up to school record holder Dillon Fairbanks for most of the season. Fairbanks, a two-year varsity starter, rewrote most of current Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty’s record with two prolific seasons under center.
While Fairbanks started, Murphy played defense as the starting safety en route to earning second-team all-district honors at the position.
That was then. This is now.
With Fairbanks gone, the quarterback reins are Murphy’s to lose. Most of last year’s starters on both sides of the ball are gone due to graduation. Murphy is one of the few seasoned varsity players returning and even though he’s changing positions coach Lee Wiginton has those expectations set high. Still, it doesn’t mean a little competition isn’t in order.
“He being the senior should win it. He has the most experience, he’s the oldest but there’s two more that I think have a very good shot. It’ll be a good battle all spring I think,” Wiginton said.
Much like Murphy last season, the back-up quarterbacks will be asked to play some other role on the football field, possibly at receiver or in the defensive secondary. Wiginton stresses the need for reserves, especially those hoping to assume quarterback roles someday, to see plenty of action while they wait their turn. Experience at the varsity level can’t be fully simulated at practice making time spent on the field Friday nights all the more important.
Meanwhile, Murphy won’t have to worry about being a defensive player any more, allowing him to focus solely on the offensive aspects of the game. That in itself will be far from easy.
Along with that totally new playbook he discussed, the senior signal caller inherits an extremely bare cupboard of offensive weapons in terms of varsity experience. Of the 12 players who caught a pass last season, only two are returning and one of them is Murphy. The other is running back Justin Seeton who caught 20 passes for 185 yards and two scores.
All the other players on that list either graduated or did not return to football this season making for a lot of adjustments in the spring practice session.
It’s a job Murphy doesn’t mind because both sides are still relatively new to the situation. Even with just a few hours of practice in the books, he’s already begun working on developing that chemistry that will be crucial to success this fall.
“We’ve got a couple new guys but we’re getting our timing down. There’s still some little bumps in the road but overall we’re getting it done,” Murphy said. “Right now I can say it’s less pressure but I guess during the season we’ll see how that happens.”
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