However next season ends for Tuscola football, rising senior Hunter Murphy will play at least one more game. Murphy was one of 60 seniors in the country selected to play in the next Hawaii Tiki Bowl.
Taking place over the week of Dec. 30, 2020 to Jan. 4, 2021, the Hawaii Tiki Bowl is an opportunity for high school seniors to play in a top level senior All-Star Game at Aloha Stadium, meet and network with college coaches all week in hopes of getting noticed for recruiting purposes, experience living in a college-like atmosphere, spend time at Waikiki Beach and, if they don’t play in college, say goodbye to football in fine fashion.
Murphy’s mother sent the lineman’s film to the Hawaii Tiki Bowl, and, after checking both it and his grades, they made him one of 60 invitees.
“I thought it was crazy,” Murphy said. “I put in a lot of hard work, and I’m just glad I got the offer.”
While he hopes to play in college, Murphy isn’t quite sure yet of his end goal for playing in the Tiki Bowl, but he knows he wants to go and make the best showing to represent both himself and the Tuscola program.
“I think it’ll be really good,” Murphy said. “Even though I’m not really going for a scholarship, I just want to go and prove myself, prove that I deserve the invite. It’s going to be hard to say bye. If I don’t get a scholarship or anything, it’ll be my last game in Hawaii. It’s just crazy to think of.”
That chance to interact with college and pro coaches should prove invaluable to Murphy as he tries to find an opportunity to play at the next level.
“The coaches coach college, a few coach in the NFL,” Murphy said. “I think I can learn a bunch of good things from them, how to talk to coaches and all that.”
New Tuscola football coach Chris Brookshire hasn’t had a chance to coach Murphy in a game situation yet.
But it’s quickly become clear to him why the senior lineman is deserving of this sort of opportunity.
“Anytime your kids get to play extra games or get to go play in games like this, it’s always fun for your program,” Brookshire said. “But it’s going to be an exciting time for Hunter and his family. You get to spend a week in Hawaii, get to practice in that weather and get to play in it. We’re excited for him, and I hope that’s not his last game.”
Having a representative in Murphy on that level will boost the profile of the Tuscola football program.
More so than that, however, seeing Murphy earn this opportunity through hard work and dedication will set an example for the Mounties’ younger players.
“Everything you do in athletics, it’s about what you leave behind, eventually,” Brookshire said. “So him getting to play in this game is going to be good for our younger kids to strive for and get to see, and do what he does in the weight room, in the classroom and on the football field. He’s been a model student here. He’s a model athlete, and he’s a better young man than he is those two things. We’re happy for his family, but we know it’s going to leave a lasting impression on our kids here.”
In Brookshire’s first season leading the Mountaineers, Murphy will be one of his go-to guys and leaders off the field.
Brookshire knows Murphy will play defensive end, and could see him playing tackle, center or tight end on the other side of the ball.
“He’s already proved to be a leader,” Brookshire said. “I’ve watched every play he played the last two years on Hudl. That was the advantage today that coaches have that ones didn’t have 20 years ago. You can really scout your own kids in the hallway and schools. I’ve seen what he’s done. He had a good basketball season. He’s already put 20 pounds back on since the season’s over. We’re excited. Nothing he does on the football field will shock me.”
Murphy is excited about the Mountaineers’ potential for the 2020 season, and knows his leadership, and ability to inspire others to do the same, will be a key factor.
“We need to just get after it,” Murphy said. “We’ve had great years. Last year wasn’t the best, but I feel like this year’s going to be different. I feel like we’re going to have a really good year this year. I need to be one of the leaders out there. Get the seniors to lead, everybody. Just prove to the ones coming up that they need to be leaders too.”