Tamantha Parrish-Murphy reflects on son’s journey to the NFL Draft

Published 12:52 pm Friday, April 28, 2023

DOWAGIAC — Tamantha Parrish-Murphy has been her son’s biggest fan every step of the way as friends and family hope to hear Caleb Murphy’s name called during the NFL Draft this weekend.

For Tamantha, the draft process as a parent has been what she refers to as “the unknown.”

“You never understand what your child is going through and what one person looks for and wants versus another and how that will look for him in the end,” she said. “As a parent, I think it’s just best to support them and let them work their way through it.”

After helping lead Ferris State to its second consecutive national championship, Caleb went to work to put himself in the best position come draft day. He was able to put his work on display for all to see both in the East-West Shrine Bowl Game Feb. 2 and the NFL Combine Feb. 27.

Caleb had spent the past three months training at a facility in Florida, which helped him learn what it will take the next steps in his professional career.
Throughout the process, family and friends have supported him every step of the way.

“Caleb is fortunate to have a great support system,” Tamantha said. “We have great friends and family who talk us through things and keep our minds focused on other things.”
One member of that support system is Bryant Bacon, Caleb’s cousin and Pastor of Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Niles.

“I’m excited for him,” Bacon said. “He’s always been a great young man and I’m just excited for him and his mom… He’s great on the field, but he’s also a great person. He loves the lord. I can’t say enough about his mannerisms and respect for everybody. I think he has set a good example for living. I think this is going to be a good time for him.”

Caleb’s meteoric rise through the college football ranks came as a surprise to many, but for Tamantha, who has watched her son closely throughout his life, his success was founded through a work ethic instilled in him at a young age.

“I’ve told all my children you can do anything you can put your mind to, but if you don’t work hard, you don’t deserve it,” she said. “His hard work shows that he deserves it.”

Dowagiac pride

As natives of Dowagiac, both Tamantha and Bacon witness Caleb’s impact on the Grand Old City every day.

“For our community, it’s pride,” she said. “They’re not strangers, these are friends and family. They all have a special place in his life. I think as a community, we’re extremely proud of him in that not only that he is an excellent athlete but that he’s a great person who exemplifies all that Dowagiac has to offer.”

“Everybody’s excited for him,” Bacon said. “People are using what he is doing as an example to encourage other young people as well. Work hard, go to school, get your degree. Everybody doesn’t get this opportunity, but he put a lot of hard work into his skill. The buzz is encouraging for the city of Dowagiac. I think everybody that I’ve talked to is really excited for him.”
Caleb came into his own at Ferris State, where Tamantha said he found a second family.

“The culture at Ferris is exactly what (head coach) Tony Annese said it is, it’s love,” she said. “From the moment that Caleb arrived, he was surrounded by love. He had his brother there and then he grew his family. They’re a family, so they love him unconditionally. When they grew, he grew. The culture is just that you work hard. If you work hard, you can see anything and the coaches support that. And it really shows.”

With day three of the draft approaching, Caleb patiently waits to hear his name called. If selected, he would become the first Dowagiac native drafted since his cousin, Sean Hill, who was drafted in the seventh round of the 1994 draft by the Miami Dolphins. Hill spent time in both Miami and Detroit.

“To have someone else from the family come through like that is an awesome experience,” Bacon said.

For Tamantha, Caleb being selected would be a proud moment not only for her family, but the Dowagiac community as a whole.

“It would mean a job well done,” she said. “We’re really proud of you. You set a goal for yourself, and you found a way to achieve it even when the odds were stacked against you. Caleb heard all the way through college, camps, and official visits that ‘you’re tiny, you come from a small town,’ and then choosing to go the D2 option and transitioning from one D2 program to another and really found his home and his niche.”