Position: Devil backer
Eligibility: Redshirt freshman
Weight: 230 pounds
2014 season quick review: Murphy-Richardson redshirted as a member of the scout team after a late start to practicing in the fall due to academics, and gained much-needed size and strength and is in much closer to game-ready shape now than when he arrived on campus last year. In December bowl practices he was arguably the top scout team performer and certain its best pass rusher.
Paul Randolph’s (former Devil backer coach) recent assessment: “[Murphy-Richardson is] probably the hardest working cat on the team as a redshirting freshman. He has gained the size, (junior college addition Davon) Durant's got the size, the strength also, but Ismael put on about 30 pounds in the fall. So he's grown into that frame that we thought [he would], and naturally his work ethic, I mean you saw him at practice he works his tail off, he only knows one speed, he's smart, Davon is really smart. They fit our mold of being a football player. They've got high football IQs they can learn and naturally in our system being able to learn and put it and take it to the field I think we've got two guys here in the spring that can do that. I'm excited to see them both turn loose and get going.”
SunDevilSource.com analysis: After being unable to watch practices in their entirety last season we weren’t able to get a great feel for how Murphy-Richardson was pressing athletically and technique-wise following the addition of significant size and strength in the months after he arrived and started to practice for the Sun Devils. When practices were fully opened to media in December for bowl practices, Murphy-Richardson kept catching our eye and with good reason.
Not only did Murphy-Richardson have one of the biggest physical transformations of anyone on the team over the course of just a few months but he retained every big of the quickness and agility that led us to view him as such a good prospect while in high school. Murphy-Richardson has a size 16 shoe and is long-limbed with an upper body that was quite thin when he arrived, but that is no longer the case. He’s still going to gain another 20 pounds probably long-term, but he’s ready to play now at this level.
As a pass rusher from the boundary-side edge, Murphy-Richardson is someone who can really exploit two-way go opportunities in space, as he has speed to beat offensive tackles who don’t quick set rapidly enough on the edge, but also impressive counters to the inside on over-sets. As a result of this, he has a style as a rusher that is very challenging for offensive tackles to manage and he’s someone that can be a technical challenge as much an athletic problem to be dealt with. Pad level is still a major focus for Murphy-Richardson against the run and he’ll have to work on stoutness and not letting blockers get up and under him to root him off his anchor.
Projected depth chart status: Starting on Day 1 of spring ball March 16 we are going to see a very compelling battle between Murphy-Richardson and fresh arriving high level junior college addition Davon Durant as they jockey for two-deep assignments and this could continue into the fall. We would give Durant the edge as an older and physically more mature player, but expect both will see the field in 2015.