Ferris’ Murphy a finalist for today’s Cliff Harris Award

Published 8:46 am Friday, December 30, 2022

BIG RAPIDS — For the second consecutive year, defensive end Caleb Murphy of the national champion Ferris State University football squad has bene tabbed as a national finalist for the 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 9th 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 today and honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club’s annual awards banquet on Jan.13, 2023, 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.

Previously, Murphy, of Dowagiac, was tabbed this year as the 2022 Ted Hendricks Award recipient as the nation’s top defensive end regardless of level and also recognized as the 2022 Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award winner.

Murphy demolished the NCAA all-divisions record for single-season sacks, recording 25.5, and led all divisions with 39 tackles for loss, which matched the all-time single-season record for any NCAA level. Nearly half of Murphy’s tackles this season were for negative yards. He and his Ferris State teammates dominated opponents on their way to their second consecutive Division II championship. The Bulldog defense shut down the Colorado School of Mines, the division’s top scoring offense, in the Division II championship game.

Murphy played the past two seasons on the field for the Bulldogs and recorded 40 sacks, 60.5 tackles for loss (353 yards), 156 total tackles and eight forced fumbles. His teams went 9-0 in the NCAA Division II playoffs. Murphy’s accolades this season include the Gene Upshaw Award (D-II Lineman of the Year), First-Team AFCA D-II All-America, the sole defensive player named a finalist for the Harlon Hill Award (D-II Player of the Year) and GLIAC Player of the Year. He will also represent Ferris State at the East-West Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas on Feb. 2, 2023.

Murphy led the Bulldogs to the 2022 NCAA Division II National Championship last week in McKinney, Texas, as FSU topped the Colorado School of Mines 41-14 in the title game.