Ferris’ Murphy a finalist for defensive player of the year

Published 6:55 pm Monday, December 27, 2021

BIG RAPIDS — Sophomore defensive end Caleb Murphy, of the national champion Ferris State University football squad, has bene tabbed as a national finalist for the 2021 Cliff Harris Award as the nation’s small college defensive player of the year.

The Little Rock Touchdown Club and Wright Lindsey Jennings announced the finalists for the 8th annual Cliff Harris Award. The award is presented to the nation’s top small college defensive player representing more than 5,000 defensive players from almost 500 NCAA Division II, Division III and NAIA colleges and universities.

An overall winner will be announced on December 28 and honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club’s annual awards banquet on Jan. 14, with featured speaker Joe Theismann. The winner will receive the $3,000 Cliff Harris Award trophy presented by Cliff Harris. In addition to the overall winner, the top vote getters from each division will also be announced.

For the story of Cliff Harris, go to CliffHarrisAward.com and read about his amazing journey from an overlooked high school player from tiny Des Arc, Arkansas, and one scholarship offer to then NAIA Ouachita Baptist University, to five Super Bowls, six Pro Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame this past summer.

Murphy was chosen this season as the GLIAC Defensive Lineman of the Year and led the Bulldogs defensively with 14.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss this season, ranking among the nation’s best in both categories. He also finished the year with five forced fumbles and totaled 63 stops, including 30 solo tackles.

The Bulldogs finished the year with a perfect 14-0 record, beating Valdosta State (Ga.) 58-17 in the national championship game on Dec. 18 in McKinney, Texas. FSU also won a third consecutive GLIAC Championship this year.