Players momentarily cleared the media area after the first round of interviews Thursday. As the reporters in the room began to gather and chat, one was perplexed.
“Did you recognize Tyler Murphy when he walked in?” he asked another reporter. “I’ve barely seen him before.”
This is how it goes for Murphy, living in John Brantley and Jeff Driskel’s world.
However, under new head coach Will Muschamp’s equal competition clause, you couldn’t tell which of the three quarterbacks is garnering the most headlines even if you could step inside the pearly gates of the Gators spring practice. That’s because Murphy is treated the same as the two more-heralded quarterbacks.
“We’re all getting equal reps,” Murphy said. “We’re all getting fair chances.”
That’s all he can ask for.
Murphy, a redshirt freshman, couldn’t get playing time last season, even though the Gators turned to anyone and everyone who could help at quarterback. His name was never mentioned, and he was only seen when fans looked closely for his headphone-clad face on the sideline.
“I just wasn’t really ready,” Murphy said. “That’s something I’m not afraid to say.”
He said he couldn’t mentally grasp the experience last year, but he is confident heading into spring football practice.
That may seem strange for a quarterback in a pro-style offense who has been primarily touted as a runner.
At Wethersfield High School in Connecticut, Murphy found himself fighting to play quarterback at the college level. He originally committed to Temple because the Owls recruited him as a quarterback and not an “athlete.”
It’s hard to avoid the athlete tag when you run 130 times for 1,213 yards in your senior season and clock a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash.
When Urban Meyer also showed confidence in Murphy as a quarterback in the Gators’ spread-option offense, he was sold and became the 26th commitment of the 2010 recruiting class.
One year later, the spread offense Murphy seemed suited for is gone, and Charlie Weis’ pro-style offense is being installed.
“When I first found out we were switching to the pro-style offense, I didn’t know what to think,” he said.
But his uncertainty has quickly changed to excitement. Like every other player who spoke Thursday, Murphy praised Weis’ system.
“It’s for the better,” he said. “The team is happy, we’re having fun with it, we’re learning a lot and we’re looking forward to next season.”
He also brushed off the idea that Driskel’s incoming hype is giving him extra motivation, or that he considered moving to Temple with former offensive coordinator Steve Addazio.
“It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I really don’t pay attention to all that stuff.”
As far as the quarterback battle, Murphy is confident the best team decision will be made.
“There’s a job out there, so we’re just going out there, competing and doing whatever is best for the team,” he said. “We all bring different stuff to the table. It’s up to the coaches to decide who they want to step forward and be the guy.”
Gator Country reporter Bryan Holt can be reached at BryanHolt@GatorCountry.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at BryanHoltGC.