The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.
Murphy projects as top sophomore QB
Like we did yesterday by touching on the recruitment of in-state linebacker Gabe Powers with an update, we are focusing today on one of Ohio State’s annual big positions of need: Quarterback.
Though the need is softened a bit because of five-star Kyle McCord coming into the fold in 2021 to follow up C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller, quarterback is a major need in every class, and one name to keep an eye on over the next several months is Junipero Serra (Calif.) High School star Maalik Murphy.
The class of 2022 composite rankings have not come out yet, but we expect the 6-foot-4, 205-pound flamethrower to be right at the top of the list, as he’s already a top-50 overall player and the No. 3-ranked pro-style quarterback, per 247Sports’ initial class of 2022 rankings (though he did drop out of the top 20 overall and slid down one spot in the QB rankings). That’s why former Ohio State quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich made Murphy one of the first players he offered when he got the job with the Buckeyes in January 2019, and Murphy remains one of just three sophomore signal callers with an Ohio State offer.
On March 7, Murphy competed at California’s Elite 11 Regional Camp at Cerritos College, where Stroud returned to his California roots while on spring break and delivered a heartfelt speech as to how impactful the 2019 Elite 11 competition was on his career and life.
After that speech, Murphy turned up the heat and delivered a performance that had 247Sports national recruiting analyst Greg Biggins raving about Murphy’s arm talent and athleticism and projecting him as a first-round NFL Draft pick in the first scout evaluation of the talented quarterback:
“Possesses a ton of raw upside and as high a ceiling as any quarterback in the region, regardless of class,” Biggins wrote in his analysis. “Has lacked ideal production through first two years but has every tool you could want in an elite quarterback and has shined in multiple offseason events. He has plus size and arm strength, is accurate to all three levels of the field, is a smart kid who understands timing and anticipation and when to take a little off his throws.
“Can already throw the football 70-plus down the field but is more than just a big arm, he knows how to play the position. He’s mobile and is comfortable throwing outside the pocket, is a highly competitive kid, a natural leader with a great off the field work ethic. Projects as an impact upper tier Power 5 starter and future high-round NFL draft pick.”
The Ohio State freshman QB CJ Stroud at the @Elite11 Saturday— Scott Schrader (@Scott_Schrader) March 8, 2020
This Event had an enormous impact on his life - Won MVP last July in Dallas, TX and scholarship offers started rolling in @USCScoop #Buckeyes pic.twitter.com/dqo3ZLzBZc
Murphy's personal quarterback trainer, Danny Hernandez, agrees that Murphy is a special talent.
“With Malik, you just look and know that’s a dude,” Hernandez told Eleven Warriors. “Coaches look at him and say that’s a guy that’s gonna be playing on Sundays. He’s a guy that’s got that kind of talent. Hopefully he’s able to stay healthy and keep doing his thing. It’s his show now. The school Maalik goes to (Junipero Serra) has a unique tradition – a great tradition – with a lot of guys in the NFL or in school.”
Former Junipero Serra players include NFL players Adoree' Jackson Robert Woods, Marqise Lee, Paul Richardson and Jordan Lasley, in addition to Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Kris Richard (the former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator for the Seahawks' Legion of Boom defense).
Editor's note: A previous version of this story wrote that “former Junipero Serra players who reached the NFL include Tom Brady (may have heard of him), David Bakhtiari and Lynn Swann, and Barry Bonds is also an alum.” That is incorrect. Those players' former school is Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., not Junipero Serro High School in Gardena, Calif., where Murphy and the above players are from.
Going over mechanics
Fast forward more than a week later and Murphy was back in the lab, training with Hernandez at STARS Sports Training and Rehabilitation Services in Anaheim, Calif.
Murphy hopped on the phone with Eleven Warriors last Tuesday for about 15 minutes before he went about his typical training routine of watching film for about 30 minutes before a series of quarterback drills in which “we’ll go out and whip it around,” Murphy said. “We don’t really have a main focus (during training). We go over everything – like most coverages we see at the high school level, and then we go out to the field and do our stretches, work on mechanics and then we get to throw.”
Murphy says that most of the coverages he sees at the high school level are Cover 2 and then Cover 0 when his offense works its way closer to the goal line.
Hernandez has been a tremendous help in helping Murphy read those coverages better and in helping his overall growth as a quarterback. The two are both rising stars in their respective fields – quarterback and quarterback trainer.
“He’s cleaned up my mechanics a lot,” Murphy said. “I’ve been throwing with him since I was in fourth grade. I came to him probably looking terrible, but a lot’s changed. (He’s been) very impactful.”
“I'm taking my time with the whole process”
Murphy has worked extensively alongside other top-tier quarterbacks at STARS such as Clemson signee DJ Uiagalelei and Alabama signee Bryce Young, and he is the next in line to carry that California quarterback legacy.
With those expectations rising, his recruitment will soon pick up, as he currently holds just 19 offers but from some of the nation’s best programs. That list includes Ohio State, Oregon, Alabama, Florida, LSU, Texas, USC and UCLA, and more will certainly be on the way. Of those schools listed, Ohio State and Texas are two that are standing out at this early stage in his recruiting process.
SPIN IT Put that thing right on the money pic.twitter.com/OnWfs6nn9I— Under Armour FTBL (@UAFootball) February 20, 2020
“I’m taking my time with the whole process,” Murphy said. “I’m letting everything come to me; every school come to me and every opportunity. Definitely, Ohio State with Coach (Ryan) Day, I’ve contacted him a couple times. We’re starting to build a better relationship now that Yurcich left, which is good. We’ll see how everything goes.
“I’ve talked to Coach Day about two or three times. He seems like a really cool guy. Great coach and great to be around; somebody you can really learn from. I know his experience as a quarterback developer, that’s a good thing. He played quarterback, and it’ll be great to learn from him because he played that position.”
The two have only spoken a few times, and Day has not detailed much about his old playing days at quarterback or specific stories of certain quarterbacks he has helped develop. Again, he’s still in the beginning stages of relationship-building with Day, saying Ohio State is “definitely” a program he’s hoping to make a push to develop better relationships with. That includes with new quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis.
“I’ve talked to (Dennis) about three or four times now,” Murphy said. “I like him a lot. We still have more things to learn about each other, but as of right now, I like him as a coach.”
As for what stands out about the Buckeyes, guys like Dwayne Haskins, J.T. Barrett and the recent success of Justin Fields in 2019 helped put a larger spotlight on the program for Murphy.
“Definitely the quarterbacks they’ve had in the past,” Murphy said. “I see myself playing in that program as another J.T. Barrett or Justin Fields. That’s a very good option for me.”
But after leaving the Buckeyes to take the offensive coordinator spot at Texas, Yurcich has continued to recruit Murphy, and the Longhorns figure to be a key player in this recruitment over the next several months.
“Ever since Coach Yurcich left for Texas, me and him still talk. I guess I’m still one of his top guys since he keeps recruiting me,” Murphy said. “I haven’t talked to coaches of any other programs too much (other than Ohio State and Texas).
“Since the first day that (Yurcich) offered me last year (in January), ever since then, we’ve talked and built a pretty strong relationship.”
Visit on the horizon?
Murphy has no plans to get to Columbus in the near future, and it doesn’t look like a visit is imminent. If it does happen, that will probably not come until he gets to campus for a game day visit during the 2020 season.
In the meantime, he’s likely to continue getting to more local schools like USC, UCLA and possibly Oregon once the temporary recruiting dead period is over.
Later this week, we will take an even further look into the future with the sole player to possess an Ohio State offer in the 2023 class: California quarterback Malachi Nelson.