McDermott Murphy loved baseball.
Then his dad Bill became the football coach at Archbishop Ryan High School, and that changed everything.
Murphy is a senior at Ryan, and after coming up from Georgia prior to his sophomore year, he was considered a high baseball prospect. He was a catcher with a strong arm and a great bat. But after getting bit by the football bug, he stopped playing baseball and turned his attention to football, full time.
“When I got here, I was 180 pounds and now I’m 230,” Murphy said. “I kind of stopped playing baseball to get bigger and focus on football. I wasn’t hitting or catching, I was just worried about getting stronger and getting ready for football.
“I played baseball my whole life. But then I started playing football, and I loved it. I put 11 years into baseball, never missed a day. Then I started playing football and I just decided to focus on that. I wanted to secure my future and know what I was going to do.”
Good news for Murphy. Now he has his future figured out, he’s become a star football player, and now that he’s signed and sealed as a future West Chester football star, he’s able to play baseball again, though he’s now playing first base.
And he still has some business to take care of as a Ryan football player.
Murphy will play in the City All-Star football game May 20 at Northeast. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. The game features a Public League team against the Non-Public squad, which features city kids from the Catholic League and Inter-Ac.
The game was canceled a few years ago, but thanks to the hard work of Doug MacAuley, the former coach at Dobbins, and Ed McGettigan, the Lincoln athletic director, the game is back this year and the players are starting to prepare for the big day.
That means long days for Murphy, who first attends baseball practice or games, and then heads to football practice. The Non-Public squad is coached by Roman coach Rick Prete, and Murphy is making a lot of friends on his new squad.
Even, gulp, guys who go to schools like Judge and Roman.
“It’s been great making new friends and meeting these guys we played against,” said Murphy, who played defensive end and tight end in high school. “At the first practice, we looked at each other, sized each other up. The next practice we all started talking. It’s just all about the next level, we’re not rivals anymore. High school football is in the past. Now we’re having fun. A lot of us will be playing, we have five or six West Chester recruits on the team. A Judge guy is going to Kutztown.
“We’re going to be playing with and against each other, but we’re having fun. There’s a lot of talent.”
Murphy is one of those talented guys.
And unlike most of the guys who are playing in this game, he doesn’t have a decade of football experience in his pocket.
Murphy spent the bulk of his life hitting line drives, not linebackers. But in two full seasons, and a couple of practices and games his sophomore year, he has a chance to play college football at a school he loves.
“There’s not a single thing I didn’t like about West Chester,” said Murphy, who is projected as a tight end at the next level. “The coaching staff, the campus, everything. I love it up there. I’m projected as an offensive player. I love offense. I like scoring. I love defense, too, but once I become comfortable at tight end, I’m going to love it.”
He isn’t going just for football.
“I’m going in undecided but my goal is to get the prerequisites out of the way and go into nursing my sophomore year,” Murphy said. “I love being around people and helping people. It’s like football and nursing for me. If I get any opportunity to play football, I’m going to do that, but my goal is to become a nurse.”
Murphy learned a lot from the Ryan coaching staff, especially his dad Bill, who stepped down to become an assistant coach at Widener. But he’s only played football for a shade over two years, so he knows he has a lot of untapped potential.
He’s going to do whatever he can to tap into that.
“I love football so much now, and I’m really glad it worked out,” Murphy said. “Football, you’re building yourself to be better than the guy across from you. Football is a simple game. That’s what it was for me, more simple for me and not that big of an adjustment.
“I do feel like I can get better. If you watch me from my first game, my motor is the same. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I got a sack because of my motor, I don’t stop. I’ll keep working to get better, but my motor stays the same. I’m going to give it everything.”
The All-Star game is just another chance to do that.
“It means a lot just to be recognized as a top player in the city,” Murphy said. “For me it’s to be able to go out there and compete with guys you battle against and fight against. Play with them and come together for a common goal. Just playing in it, with the rich tradition and the history, it’s fun. I’m happy to be a part of it.”