December 23, 2017 10:45:16 PM
WEST POINT -- The phone rings less often these days for West Point High School senior Marcus Murphy.
Murphy signed a National Letter of Intent to play football at Mississippi State on Wednesday. The signing came hours after he finished his high school course work so that he could graduate this month and enroll at MSU early.
Many college recruiters spent the last month trying to catch Murphy. It was the same problem opposing high school players faced for the past three seasons. In the end, Murphy had too much speed and kept outrunning the field.
"This past year was an incredible experience," Murphy said. "I learned so much. If you could sum it up in one statement, I learned it was time to grow up and get ready to do the adult thing. Being recruited has been a rewarding experience. I feel honored, humbled, and blessed. So many players do not get this opportunity.
"There is no way I will ever take any of this for granted."
West Point took advantage of every opportunity the past two seasons. In that time, the Green Wave won 29 of 30 games and captured back-to-back Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A State championships.
After helping lead West Point to the 2017 title and an undefeated season, Murphy is being honored today as The Dispatch's Large School All-Area Offensive Player of the Year.
At the signing ceremony, West Point coach Chris Chambless didn't take time to summarize all of Murphy's awards. Instead, he told the audience "I am really going to miss this guy."
While the statistics speak for themselves, Murphy's contributions in the leadership category can't be measured.
"Best player in the state," West Point senior wide receiver/defensive back Jason Brownlee said. "He never got rattled. There was always this composure and demeanor. We are going to get it done and this is how we are going to get it done."
Murphy shifted back to quarterback this season after playing there as a sophomore. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Murphy rushed for 1,856 yards and 31 touchdowns. He threw for 1,058 yards and nine more scores.
A Dandy Dozen pick by The Clarion-Ledger, All-State performer by the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC), MHSAA Class 5A, Region 1 Most Valuable Player, and four-star prospect by 247 Sports, Murphy finished his high school career with 5,227 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns. He had three seasons he rushed for more than 1,600 yards.
"Marcus epitomized everything you want in your program," Chambless said. "He always wanted the other guys to get the praise and the limelight. Obviously, he was going to get his, too, but he wanted every player on the team to be the best they could become. As a quarterback, that is the type of leadership skill you want. Best player but hardest worker on the team. That didn't happen by accident."
Murphy said playing the game at an early age taught him the importance of teamwork. At West Point, a player always will be surrounded by talented teammates.
"Always remain humble," Murphy said. "That has always been the advice from my family. When you haven't come from a lot, you don't need to act like you are everything. Nothing has been given. Everything I achieved and that this team has achieved has come through hard work and dedication."
West Point had last won a state championship in 2010. Earlier this decade, the Green Wave continued to play competitive football but couldn't recapture their glory.
As sophomores, Murphy and teammate Chris Calvert teamed up to lead West Point to 11 victories. It was the ground-and-pound style Chambless loves to play. The sophomores had to grow up quickly against a daunting schedule. Calvert added 3,303 yards and 48 rushing touchdowns in each of the last three seasons combined.
"It was fun, running alongside Chris all these years," Murphy said. "We feel like we kind of helped put West Point football back on the map. It's an honor to uphold the tradition and get this program back to where it belongs. For the seniors this season, we were hungry. One championship was not enough.
"We knew going back to back would cement us as some of the best to have ever played out here."
Murphy ranks with the best to have played at the school. At MSU, he will join former West Point standout running back Aeris Williams, who is a junior for the Bulldogs.
"Really can't wait to get there and get started," Murphy said. "There have been times this past year felt like a blur. The coaches did a great job of keeping us grounded. We felt like we could repeat, but there are no guarantees. It worked out in the end."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter
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