Murphy enjoys Shrine Game experience, set for NFL Combine

Published 12:32 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2023

DOWAGIAC — It has been quite a year for former Dowagiac Union High School and Ferris State University’s Caleb Murphy.

The junior defensive end helped lead the Bulldogs to a second consecutive Division II National Championship. Murphy shattered not only Ferris State defensive records, but national records.

Murphy won every Division II award for defensive lineman and was named the best defensive end in the country, regardless of division, when he was selected for the Ted Hendricks Award.

He earned those awards by setting a new NCAA standard, regardless of division, for sacks in a single season with 25.5. He also led all divisions with tackles for loss with 39.

Murphy earned a trip to the East-West Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas for his efforts in early February. He is now in Indianapolis, Indiana preparing to participate in the National Football League Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday.

Murphy said that his experience in Las Vegas was cool, and he learned a lot that has helped him prepare for the NFL Combine and a potential spot on an NFL roster following the draft in April.

“Everyone dreams of going Division 1 and playing D1 ball, so it was kind of like that feeling because you get to go and play with those types of guys,” he said. “Guys, who are going to the next level. To be out there with them was pretty amazing. Being in Vegas for the first was really cool too.”

Murphy said one of the most enjoyable part of the Shrine Bowl experience was being around NFL coaches, staffs and general managers.

“Being able to communicate with them and talk to a bunch of teams so that I could find out what they were looking for,” he said. “Just to be able to show what I can do against those guys was really cool too.”

Ferris State recently upgraded its football facilities, but walking to the Las Vegas Raiders training facility was something to behold, according to Murphy.

“It is beautiful,” he said. “It is huge. There are rooms for everything you can possible think of. They have an indoor field that was beautiful.”

Not only did Murphy and the other players in the Shrine Bowl work out at the Raiders facility, some of the defensive players were lucky enough to get to talk with Las Vegas’ Maxx Crosby, a two-time Pro Bowl selection from Eastern Michigan University.

“Maxx Crosby is a cool guy,” Murphy said. “He just gave us some acknowledgment and told us we can do anything we want to. He is one of the best run-defenders on the edge this year. He was told he couldn’t do it, but he showed that he could and continues to prove people wrong.”

Spending time at Allegiant Stadium was also a highlight for Murphy, from the first day there interacting with the children with the Shriners to game day and getting a feel for what it is like on Sundays in the National Football League.

“It just felt like it was something I was meant to do,” he said. “I have never been in a stadium with that many people. I wanted to go out and prove I would play with these boys. To play on that field with the people stacked in there gave me a taste of what it could be like.”

Murphy feels like he had a solid performance during the practices leading up to the game and then during the contest, which included him recording a sack.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said. “I was very excited about it. I did everything I was supposed to do to get there and I feel like I went out there and proved myself.”

Murphy received his invitation to the combine as he was getting ready to take off for Vegas.

“Since I was a kid, that is where I wanted to be,” he said. “I have watched people do it for years. My agent told me there was no doubt in his mind that I would get one [an invitation], so it was like a waiting game. It was a heartwarming moment. I shot my mom [Tamantha] a text to let her know and then I got on the plane.”

Murphy, along with the other defensive linemen and linebackers, will be first up at the combine Thursday when it gets started at 3 p.m. The NFL Combine can be seen live on the NFL Network and fuboTV. The combine will also be live streamed on fuboTV, NFL, NFL and NFL Network apps.

The fact that this does not happen every day to people from Dowagiac is not lost on Murphy.

“I am excited to showcase what Dowagiac has to offer,” he said. “To be able to show what Dowagiac is all about and how hard people work here. I also want to show that people from smaller schools can get noticed.”