The work that went into one of Virginia Tech’s newest commitments started before the current staff was even in place.
For East Central Community College (Miss.) wide receiver Henri Murphy, though, that was something that always stuck with him. And ultimately, it was the biggest reason he decided to join the Hokies on Saturday.
In some ways, Murphy will get a head start on that next destination. As far as playing time, Murphy will have to wait a year. But he also believes his next home will allow him plenty of opportunity to be successful at the next level, including getting settled on a position.
In the spring of 2015, Murphy signed with Henderson State (Ark.) a Division II school that was the only one to offer him. After he signed, special teams coordinator James Shibest, then at Memphis, offered Murphy after watching him run track.
Henderson State, however, wouldn’t release Murphy from his letter of intent, so he spent the last year at East Central. Now that he’s on board with Virginia Tech as a member of the 2016 class, Murphy plans to enroll in school next month. Because he played just one year at the junior college level, though, Murphy will have to redshirt this fall. He’ll still be allowed to practice with the team and plans to run indoor track beginning in December.
“That’s the whole point of me coming and enrolling this summer, so I can get used to everything, get stronger,” Murphy said. “I can get ready for next season, instead of coming in December and not knowing what to do. I’ll just get stronger and get ready to play ball next year.”
Murphy said his relationship with Shibest and the rest of the staff makes it well worth the wait. Ever since Shibest made the initial offer, they’ve stayed in contact and Murphy said he’s remained grateful for that first opportunity.
“Coach Shibest came and offered me right after track season was over,” Murphy said. “Football season had passed and I had already signed with a Division II school. I wanted to go D-I, but I thought I had no hope. Coach Shibest was the only guy to come to the school and he gave me that chance. He left Memphis to go to Virginia Tech and he was still interested in me, kept saying the same thing and I felt like that had a lot of loyalty with it.”
This weekend, Murphy made his first visit to Blacksburg and first flying experience. It was also just enough to confirm his decision.
“Blacksburg is a pretty nice city to be around and be in,” Murphy said. “The coaching staff, they’re a good group of guys and I got to hang out with a couple of football players. They’re cool to hang around and I felt comfortable hanging around those guys. I got to see some people out in the community and they seemed like they were some pretty cool people. I felt like that was a place I should be, to keep my future bright.”
In all likelihood, Murphy will play wide receiver with the Hokies. But he’s also open to the possibility of moving to the defensive side if need be.
“They said they’re gonna evaluate me on both sides of the ball,” Murphy said. “I could play corner. Right now, they said I fit the offense perfect. I can play both sides of the ball, so wherever they need me, it could change when I get there.”
Murphy garnered offers from schools like Mississippi State, Arizona, Toledo and most recently, in-state Arkansas. But none of them had been there as long as Shibest had.
“Arkansas offered a few weeks ago,” Murphy said. “I was looking at them for a second, but I was looking at the recruiting process and not the hype and all that stuff, where I’m wanted and needed. I felt that Virginia Tech wanted me the most, so I went with them.”