Super Murphy Brothers: Family bonds propel Murphy brothers to success on football field – HORIZONS 2023
Published 7:00 am Friday, March 17, 2023
It was a family affair for Dowagiac natives Caleb and Cailyn Murphy Saturday, Dec. 10 at Ferris State University.
Fresh off the Bulldogs’ 38-17 victory over West Florida in the NCAA Division II Football National Semifinal game, the brothers Murphy were greeted by their mother, Tamantha, and a host of friends and family members who made the 2.5-hour trip from Dowagiac to Big Rapids to see them play in their final home game of the season.
Caleb shared a heartfelt embrace with his mother after helping the Bulldogs advance to their second-straight Division II National Championship Game.
“I’m super proud; he’s an amazing human being,” Tamantha said. “He does the right things; he thinks of others and he’s not selfish. I’m super proud of all of his accomplishments. He’s a college graduate, that’s more important.”
“My mom is my best friend,” Caleb said. “I would do anything for her just to make her happy. It makes me happy.”
Tamantha made the trip to McKinney the following week to see her sons win their second-straight national championship. The Bulldogs defeated the Colorado School of Mines 41-14 Saturday, Dec. 17 in McKinney, Texas.
“We do everything together,” Caleb said. “She means the world to me. I can count on her for anything and everything.”
Caleb has compiled an impressive resume since transferring to Ferris State from Grand Valley State two years ago. Along with winning the Ted Hendricks Award, an award given to the best collegiate defensive lineman in the country, the 2022 GLIAC Player of The Year award winner also earned the 2022 Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year award and was the 2022 Harlon Hill Trophy runner-up.
For Caleb, one of his greatest joys this season has been the ability to play with his younger brother, Cailyn, for the second straight year. A redshirt freshman wide receiver, Cailyn has appeared in four games and has caught one pass for six yards and two rushes for 18 yards.
“It’s pretty cool that my brother is playing this year,” Caleb said. “Last year he didn’t play; he still got a ring because he helped the team out in any way possible and it’s awesome that we get to experience that together.”
“It feels great to be able to play again with my brother for one more game,” Cailyn said. “It will probably be the last one we ever play together, so it’s just amazing.”
For Cailyn, being able to interact with his brother on the same team has been an experience he won’t soon forget. The two brothers had never been able to be on the same team prior to Caleb’s arrival in Big Rapids.
“It’s more than words could ever explain,” Cailyn said. “His career has been amazing since he came here and I’m very proud of him. I just can’t thank God enough for the opportunity he’s given us.”
A former Dowagiac standout at quarterback, Cailyn has made the transition to wide receiver since enrolling at Ferris State. His combination of size (6-3) and speed makes him an ideal fit in the Bulldogs’ offense.
“I’m playing a new position now,” Cailyn said. “It feels great to be able to have the ball and be capable of showing my abilities in many different ways.”
The pride of Dowagiac
Fans from around the country tuning into the Division II Football National Championship Game in December may not have been familiar with Ferris State University, let alone Caleb or Cailyn Murphy.
Cory Hill, a Dowagiac assistant football coach and Caleb and Cailyn’s uncle — was proud to see his nephews shine under the McKinney, Texas lights.
“This year was actually a lot sweeter for me because the boys both got to play,” he said. “Last year Cailyn was on the team but didn’t participate much. This year he got to play and got some receptions and runs and stuff, so he got to be a part of it. That felt good to me.”
For Hill and countless others from Dowagiac, watching Caleb and Cailyn’s journey from small-town Michigan into the national spotlight has been a great experience.
“It’s been great,” he said. “It’s exciting for both the kids and the community. I get stopped by people all the time to talk about them. It’s really cool.”
While the brothers have accomplished much at both prep and collegiate levels, Hill said as great of athletes they are, they are even greater people.
“They have the rings and the championships but if you talked to them, you wouldn’t be able to tell. They’re super humble,” he said. “It’s not like you’re dealing with stars. Even with Caleb and his success, you’re not dealing with a star, you’re dealing with a kid from Dowagiac. I love it, they’re great kids.”
To add to his list of achievements, Caleb graduated from Ferris State University in December.
“As a family, that’s probably one of our biggest accomplishments,” he said. “They’re great kids who are more than just football players. They come from a great family, a great mom. I’m really proud of them.”
Sending a message
With a second national championship and numerous awards in tow, Caleb has set his sights on the 2023 NFL Draft taking place April 27-29. In front of NFL scouts, Caleb participated in the 2023 East West Shrine Bowl in February, competing against some of the best pro prospects in the country in hopes of hearing his name called during the draft.
Cailyn hopes that his success and his brother’s success sends a positive message to the Dowagiac youth back home.
“I’m trying to send the message of telling kids to not give up on their goals anymore,” he said. “It seems like kids are starting to fall apart and I hope that seeing me and Caleb going back to the championship helps out.”