“Will Power” from Walk-On to Walking Tall
ANOTHER IN A SERIES FROM OUR FRIENDS AT MIGHTY OREGON
AN INTERVIEW WITH WILL MURPHY
By Dusty Ritter
A last second realization brought him back to Eugene to fulfill his childhood dream of playing for the Ducks and his determination earned him a spot on the scout team during his redshirt freshman year in 2008.
Will Murphy has earned his place on one of the nation’s elite teams. You could call him a Fighting Duck of sorts as he climbed his way into the starting rotation in a talented Duck receiving corps as a fifth year senior after nearly playing for Division II Western Oregon.
His collegiate debut was in Oregon’s victory over the New Mexico Lobos in 2010; on the field for a team high 52 snaps with two receptions for 22 yards. In 2011, he appeared in 10 games including a five-yard catch against LSU. In 2012 he tallied 29 receptions for 181 yards, with a long of 29 yards and averaging 13.9 yards per catch. In Oregon’s win over California and caught his first career touchdown on a seven-yard toss from Marcus Mariota.
Will was a three-year letterman in football, basketball, and baseball for the West Albany Bulldogs. The Bulldogs went to the football state championship in his junior year and lost, but they took home the 5A state crown the next year in 2007. Murphy was also named First-Team All-State at both wide receiver and cornerback.
Will Murphy’s story is one of hard work, determination, and selflessness.
Interview with Will
MO: What was your first love in sports?
WM: I think just playing with my best friends. I really started to love football and basketball out on the playground.
MO: How did high school football go for you?
WM: High school ball went great for me. We lost the state championship my junior year but came back and won it my senior year.
MO: Which teams were recruiting you, and what made you choose Oregon?
WM: The only school that was recruiting me was Western Oregon. I agreed to go there, but it just didn’t feel right, so I decided to walk-on at Oregon.
MO: How is Scott Frost as a coach?
WM: Frosty is a definite player’s coach (laughs). He’s the best coach I’ve ever had. He makes you want to work hard for him, and he rewards you for your hard work
MO: How hard was it to learn this system?
WM: It took me a good three years to finally feel comfortable out there. It’s easier to learn everything on paper, but once you’re out there running around you’ve got to read signals and get lined up in between plays.
MO: So it gets pretty crazy?
WM: When you’re trying to run back to get lined up and the signals are on the other side of the field and there are 20 guys in the way; it gets pretty wild.
MO: What is unique about your position?
WM: You really have to know what’s going on with the whole system and who to block. With Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas back there you have to be on top of your blocking game, those guys can break a tackle and get out in open space at any time.
MO: So you almost have to be a couple seconds ahead of those two?
WM: Yeah, you have to expect that they’re going to break lose at any moment.
MO: When you’re at the line of scrimmage…what are you looking for and what are your responsibilities?
WM: You have to look at the guy across from you, and if he’s going man-to-man or zone, and how far off he’s playing you.
MO: What has been your personal highlight so far?
WM: I think my touchdown against California this year was my personal highlight. It was my first career touchdown and something I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while.
MO: What do you do for fun other than football?
WM: I really enjoy hunting and fishing, whether it’s fishing on the McKenzie or Willamette River, or going hunting with my uncle.
MO: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
WM: I’ve had season tickets to Duck games since I was about six years old, I’ve been a Duck fan my whole life.
MO: You definitely knew you wanted to play for the Ducks?
WM: Yeah it was always my dream. I remember as a kid acting like Kenny Wheaton in the backyard (laughs). I’m a lifelong Duck fan.
Coach Scott Frost on Will
MO: How has Will developed in his time at Oregon?
SF: Will is remarkable to me because of where he started and where he is now. He’s a testament to the improvement you can make when you get into this program and do the work.
MO: What are his strengths, what stands out about him?
SF: He’s really surprisingly fast; he’s one of our fastest guys. I think his strengths are toughness and perseverance, I don’t think he would be where he is if he wasn’t tough enough to work through a lot of things.
MO: What are some examples of what he has done to improve?
SF: He came in here as a walk-on that got beat around his first two years, and just little by little worked his way up, to where he’s one of our most reliable guys now.
MO: What impact has he made this year?
SF: We rotate our outside group a lot so we can have fresh legs on the field, and Will has been a big part of that this year. He’s made catches when we need him to, played on special teams, he runs great routes, and blocks well.
MO: How would you describe Will as a person and a player?
SF: He came in as a walk-on, so it took him awhile to feel like he belonged and to trust himself on the field. He belongs out there now, he’s aggressive and confident, and a big part of what we do on offense.
Mighty Oregon is an independent full color magazine dedicated to covering University of Oregon sports. It is available free of charge in the Eugene-Springfield area at the following locations: Dari Marts, Bi Marts, Knechts, Duck Stores and Oregon Sports stores. We publish after every football game and then once per month through June, for a total of 20 issues, and we intend increase our frequency in the near future. A Duck fan can subscribe for $45 (we have to ship first class which costs about $35). To order, email: email@example.com or call Jerry Thompson at 541-221-3154.