Tyler Murphy knew it could have been a tough transition when he left the University of Florida in January to start anew his college football career as a graduate-transfer at Boston College. The biggest adjustment in going from the Southeastern Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference seemed to be getting himself acclimated to the radical change in game-day atmosphere. After all, the roiling cauldron of The Swamp in Gainesville, Fla., is a polar opposite in comparison with BC’s quaint Alumni Stadium.
“Being in the SEC, I’m hoping it’ll help me when it comes to playing in certain types of atmospheres [in the ACC],’’ said Murphy, a native of Wethersfield, Conn., who seemed to welcome the escape from Florida’s oppressive heat and humidity and relish the opportunity “to get used to playing in the cold again,’’ he said.
But, after transferring from Florida along with offensive tackle Ian Silberman, Murphy, a mercurial 6-foot-2-inch, 213-pound dual-threat quarterback, readily embraced the opportunity to spark BC’s offense and close out his college career in familiar surroundings.
“There’s a lot of common ground here,’’ said BC coach Steve Addazio, who helped recruit Murphy out of high school when Addazio was a Florida assistant under Urban Meyer. “It was just a good fit.’’
Murphy, who is eligible to play because he graduated from Florida last December, couldn’t have landed in a better situation, playing an hour and 15 minutes from his hometown.
Murphy was well-acquainted with Addazio, offensive line coach Justin Frye, who had worked at Florida as an offensive graduate assistant under Addazio, and tight ends coach Frank Leonard, who went to the same high school as Murphy.
More importantly, Murphy had some familiarity with the spread-type offense Addazio had run at Florida and wanted to install at BC.
“He wanted to come and he wanted to have the chance to run the reins of his own program,’’ Addazio said. “He had it for a short while [at Florida] and a competitor likes that feel and that taste and he wanted to get that back.’’
Murphy went 2-4 as a starter at Florida last season when he took over in the third game of the season, against Tennessee, after Jeff Driskel broke his right leg. Murphy passed for 1,216 yards and six touchdowns, throwing for a career-high 305 yards and a TD against Vanderbilt before he injured his right shoulder and missed the last three games.
“Football is not a promise to last your whole life, so I wanted to make sure I had a Plan B as well,’’ Murphy said. “I wanted to get my master’s and I figured if I had another year of eligibility left, I wanted to take advantage of it. So, instead of being a backup my last year at Florida, I wanted to find a place where I could compete and be a starter.
“So that’s when I came to my decision and figured that maybe I should look out and find something else.’’
It led Murphy to BC. “It was a great fit for him,’’ Addazio said.
It was a great fit for BC, as well.
The Eagles were in dire need of an experienced replacement for Chase Rettig, a 46-game starter who passed for 8,263 yards and 52 touchdowns before signing as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers. With dual-threat freshmen QBs Darius Wade and Troy Flutie in need of seasoning, Murphy seemed well-suited to serve in the dual capacity as BC’s starting QB and a mentor to his understudies.
“When he was at Florida, he was introduced to the system, some of the things that we call. So it wasn’t completely foreign to him,’’ said BC offensive coordinator Ryan Day. “Then, having two young freshmen at quarterback, it is good having a guy who can bridge the gap to the younger kids.
“The guys have taken well to him and he’s done a nice job of assimilating himself with the offense and the team, and it’s good to see a guy who has a little experience under his belt.’’
One way Murphy assimilated himself was to bake cookies for the offensive line in the spring, a goodwill gesture he learned as a freshman at Florida from quarterback John Brantley.
“It was just something as a way to bond with the offensive linemen and keep them happy because I need them to protect me,’’ Murphy said, chuckling. “Anything to bribe them to block for me, I’m willing to do.’’
While he has succeeded in winning the hearts, minds, and stomachs of his offensive linemen, Murphy initially was concerned how he would be accepted by his new teammates when he and Silberman arrived in January to begin winter workouts.
“That’s something I was very nervous about,’’ Murphy said. “Any time you have a guy come in from a different school, especially a fifth-year, it’s nerve-wracking. But guys welcomed me with open arms.”
Junior running back David Dudeck was one of the first to greet Murphy and Silberman when he ran into the Florida transfers at Eagles Deli in Cleveland Circle. Dudeck invited them to sit with him and got acquainted with them, exchanging cellphone numbers and, eventually, text messages.
“The next day we got right to work and we started throwing,’’ Murphy said. “So guys like him, Josh Bordner and Dominique Williams encouraged me to just be myself and they helped me get situated. Even the staff, they made it really easy for me, so that was something I was really grateful for.’’
Back to the future
Although dual-threat quarterbacks have been all the rage in college football, at BC, where Doug Flutie set the gold standard, such quarterbacks have been the exception rather than the norm.
Since Flutie’s magical era, BC has seen a progression of prototype pocket passers working under center. From Shawn Halloran to Mike Power to Mark Kamphaus to Glenn Foley to Mark Hartsell to Matt Hasselbeck to Matt Ryan and Rettig. Willie Hicks, Tim Hasselbeck, Paul Peterson and Dominique Davis, who transferred to East Carolina after failing to make the grade at BC, fit the mold as dual-threats. But they were among the few who followed in Flutie’s footsteps.
Now, with Murphy, it appears the Eagles are poised to get back to the future.
“Doug Flutie did a good job of just extending plays and moving around the pocket, and giving his receivers more time to get down the field,’’ Murphy said. “That’s something I’m really going to take after and just extend plays and that’ll open up plays downfield because receivers will have an extra second or two.
“If I can draw some defenders up, it’ll be exciting to see a lot of deep balls go over the top.’’
Murphy could emerge as the type of weapon that energizes BC’s fans and gives opposing defensive coordinators fits, just as Flutie did. “I’m excited about it,’’ Murphy said. “I’m really just looking forward to competing with the guys. They’ve really worked hard and sacrificed a lot and pushed themselves to the limit.
“You hear a lot of people say they feel like it’s a brotherhood with their team, but with this team, there’s no egos, no superstars, no rock stars. Everybody just wants to win. It’s really exciting. It’s something I’m just blessed to be a part of.’’Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.