Making The Move From Defense To Offense

This Auburn football player discusses his position change.

Auburn, Ala.--A year ago, Dexter Murphy answered the call to join the reinforcements at defensive end and helped the Tigers overcome a depth crisis at that position on the way to winning nine games.

This year, the Tigers went into the preseason with nine players with experience at the guard position and signee Jarrod Britt expected to provide more depth. However, a rash of injuries has thinned the ranks as Auburn prepares for its August 30th season opener. On Sunday, offensive coordinator and line coach Hugh Nall asked Murphy, a fifth-year senior, if he would be willing to return to a position he hasn't played since the Georgia-Florida All-Star Game following his senior season at LaGrange High.

Dexter Murphy

"It was a little bit unexpected, but I am OK with the move," Murphy said. "We had a little bit of a depth of a problem and they needed somebody to step in. Coach Nall asked me this morning (Sunday) would I be interested in trying to see how I would look and I told him that I wouldn't mind coming over."

Murphy said he is going to have extra work to do studying his assignments and working individually with Nall, who originally recruited Murphy when he was a senior at LaGrange High School. "I think it is something that I can do OK."

The fifth-year senior said he isn't sure if the move is permanent. "I don't have a clue," he said. "Tomorrow I could come in and be a defensive tackle. I really don't know."

"He did a good job today," head coach Tommy Tuberville said. "He played the offensive line in high school. He could work his way into a starting spot, but obviously right now we are just working on improving our depth in case we get more injuries during the season.

"They call Dexter "Ironman," Tuberville added. "I think he has played every position on defense other than safety and cornerback. He is a great guy. He is a team leader and has done a lot for this team the last few years. He had no problem with this and that is just the kind of kid he is--anything to help the team."

Murphy, who is 6-2, 280 pounds, started for three years on the offensive line in high school and two years on defense. He redshirted during Tuberville's first Auburn season in 1999 and saw spot duty in eight games at defensive tackle in 2000, making two tackles. He started twice at tackle and played in all 12 games as a sophomore and made five tackles. As a junior, he played in 13 games at end with one start. He had 12 tackles, including two sacks and four tackles for losses.

Dexter Murphy receives instructions from Hugh Nall during Sunday evening's practice.

"They tell you they need you to do something and the only answer I felt I could give them was yes," Murphy said. "If I am going to be a team player, I have to accept it and see if I can help out. If I didn't think I could help out I wouldn't have agreed to the move. I think I will be able to help out a little bit."

When asked what the hardest part of the move will be, Murphy said, "Being programmed out of being a defensive linemen. Everything is different, the opposite of everything I have been told to do for the last four years. It is going to take a little time."

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