When Jim Harbaugh first turned his attention to recruiting the 2016 class last winter, Phoenix (Ariz.) Brophy prep star Connor Murphy quickly emerged as a major priority. The basis of Michigan’s immediate interest was one part pedigree and one part performance. The basis for Murphy’s mutual interest was exactly the same.
“I was actually on the phone with Coach Harbaugh a month ago and he asked me one question. He said, “Connor, what is it going to take for us to get you over here at Michigan?” When he was at Stanford he rebuilt that program. He went after those tough blue collar, hard nose, son of a (guns). That’s what I like. Harbaugh is the best for just recruiting those types of guys. Those are the types of guys that I’ve always been around all my life. My big brother (Trent Murphy, who Harbaugh recruited to Stanford) and my dad, that’s their personality and that’s my personality. I told him to do that same exact thing at Michigan and I basically told him that Michigan would be on my favorite (list) come signing day.”
While it’s clear that Michigan has a strong chance if making Murphy’s group of finalists when the time comes to names them, beating his other suitors out won’t be an easy feat. They may not have the years of familiarity with their coaches on their side, but they do have proximity
“Honestly I think in order (of which schools are recruiting him the hardest) is probably going to be (Arizona State)… that whole hometown hero vibe. They’re right in my backyard, I’m right in their backyard. So ASU is recruiting me the hardest. Second, I would probably say the Oregon Ducks. I’m not sure if it is true or not, but Oregon has been telling me that I’m their most big time recruit right now, and they’re recruiting me the hardest. That’s what a lot of people have been telling me, so hopefully that’s true. Third is probably USC and fourth UCLA. From there all the other colleges like Vanderbilt, Alabama, LSU, Michigan are all pretty even.”
Campus visits could obviously impact Murphy’s perception of who wants him the most, which is why one of the most frequent topics of conversation when he speaks with Harbaugh is setting up a trip to Ann Arbor.
“Actually my dad and me have been contacting Coach Harbaugh because we wanted to go see him after (The Opening), but he is out of town right now on vacation with his wife and kids,” Murphy explained. “We’ve been talking because he gets back in town the 20th of July. If I’m not going to see him before my football season then I’m definitely going to see him sometime in my football season. I haven’t been to Michigan yet. I haven’t checked them out. I just heard it was really cold and rainy there. That’s not really my ideal climate, but I just need to get out there and check them out.”
Once he arrives on Michigan’s (or any other suitor’s campus), deeper analysis of his most pertinent criteria takes precedent. Murphy insists his decision will come down to much more than weather and distance from home.
“One thing I’m saying basically to everyone right now is the three things I’m looking for in a college program is first academics,” he said. “Me, my dad, my brother and my mom, and all my sisters, we all believe there is life after football. I might not even make it to the NFL, so I’ve definitely need to get a good degree and hopefully even a masters one day. A second thing is a brotherhood; are the guys going to be nice loving guys, welcome me in, am I going to be able to bond with the guys. Third is the hunger of the program. Are the guys going to be as hungry as I am, do they want the national championship as badly as I do. Those are the three things that ideally would be my dream college so of speak. If Michigan had that, then yes that would be an ideal college for me.”
But Murphy is a long way from determining what that ideal place will be. He is committed to taking his time and as many visits as necessary to arrive at the best possible choice.
“(A decision will come) definitely after my high school football season… maybe at one of the All-American games,” he said. “The Army All-American game, they’ve been contacting me so hopefully I’ll be blessed enough to be invited to that. I’m definitely going to (commit to a school) after my football season.”