Murphy making plays for UF

Florida's Louis Murphy gets up with the ball in the end zone after scoring the Gators' first touchdown last Saturday against Georgia.

TRACY WILCOX/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, November 3, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 2, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

Florida wide receivers Andre Caldwell and Percy Harvin have this thing about speed, and debating who's the fastest player on the team. When they start talking smack about it (which apparently is often), Louis Murphy dishes out the line that ends the argument.

"I just tell them to look at the board," Murphy said.

The board Murphy refers to is the one hanging in the UF weight room that lists the players with the fastest 40-yard dash times on the team. The name on top isn't Caldwell or Harvin. It's Murphy. And next to his name is the staggering time: 4.25 seconds.

"We're always talking about speed and racing each other," Murphy said. "They always say they can beat me. I tell them, Hey, it's on the board.' "

Caldwell doesn't really need to look at the board. He is Murphy's roommate and the guy who revealed for the first time this past summer that Murphy is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, players on the team. That statement was a revelation to many because Murphy was a relative unknown among the receivers.

He didn't have a reputation for speed (or just about anything else) back then.

Things are changing. Fast.

Murphy has sped onto the scene this season to become one of the prominent playmakers on an offense that possesses many.

"The opportunity came and I've just tried to make the most of it," said the true junior from St. Petersburg. "It feels good. I think I've surprised a lot of people."

The speed thing shouldn't be a surprise anymore - not after he's streaked for touchdown receptions of 37, 66 and 40 yards this season. Murphy suddenly owns the rep of being a deep threat, a reliable teammate and a go-to receiver.

"He's brought a lot of energy to the group and a down-the-field presence," Caldwell said. "He's another playmaker out there taking the pressure off of some of the other guys.

"A lot of people underestimate his speed. He's shocking a lot of people making plays now and helping us win games. He can move."

Early in Murphy's career, it looked like his fastest move might be right out of town. He didn't have much of a work ethic, he was having difficulty fitting in with his teammates and he was straying some off the field. Urban Meyer said he didn't see Murphy lasting long at Florida back in 2005, Murphy's true freshman season and Meyer's first year at UF.

"He wasn't respected by his teammates," Meyer said. "Now, he's being respected by his teammates. I didn't think he'd be here. If I was a wagering person, I'd say there's no chance he'd be here right now."

Meyer said Murphy started turning his life and his game around late last season.

"There's not a guy I can remember in 20 years that's made such a significant turnaround," Meyer said. "You see what happens with Louis Murphy in the next 20 years. He's going to be successful. I think he's going to play pro football some day and I know he's going to graduate.

"That all ties into development and trust. He's one of our go-to guys. There's a chance he'll be a captain of our football team some day if he continues his growth as a person."

Murphy played as a true freshman in 2005, but did not catch a pass. Last season, he made a memorable reception against LSU - a 35-yard TD catch from Tim Tebow - but then basically disappeared for the rest of the year.

This season he's emerged as one of UF's most prominent playmakers.

"Whatever I can do to help the team win, that's what I want to do," he said. "I've just been working real hard. Whenever my chance comes, I've just got to make a play.

"I've made some plays, so now defenses probably will be looking for me and it will open it up for somebody else. That's the way it works. I'm just here to help the team win."

Murphy said his UF career was slow to develop due to injuries. In his first two offseasons, he had microscopic knee surgery and hernia surgery.

"My first two offseasons, I went through a couple of surgeries, so I never really got to do a lot of offseason training," he said. "This was my first summer being able to do offseason training and it's made a big difference."

His 4.25 40 time was an eye-opener in the summer. Some of his catches have been the same this season.

His career started off at a crawl, but it's in full sprint right now.

"It's been a long journey," said Murphy, a sports management major who hopes to be a high school or college athletic director some day. "It's hard (when you're not playing), but you have to stay focused and humble and trust God and everything will work out. That's my belief. God has been working His hand in my life. I know there are more good things ahead."

Robbie Andreu can be reached at 352-374-5022 or

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