The book on: Trent Murphy

As one of the most productive pass rushers in NCAA history, Stanford's Trent Murphy has drawn comparisons to former All-Pro Mike Vrabel. Murphy dominated with 15 sacks and 23.5 TFLs as a senior.

Trent Murphy

Defensive Rush End/Strong-side Outside Linebacker
Stanford University Cardinal
Phoenix, Arizona
Brophy College Preparatory School


Much like Washington's Ryan Kerrigan and Philadelphia's Connor Barwin, Murphy is a "quiet assassin," a mortal enemy of quarterbacks and ball carriers that dare to enter his territory. A starter for his last 41 games, he has had a hand in sacking the quarterback 37 times (solos/assists) during that span, in addition to making a stop behind the line of scrimmage on 63 plays.

During his three seasons as a starter, Murphy's 32.5 sacks (28 solos, nine assists) not only leads the nation's active Football Bowl Subdivision players but rank 11th in FBS history, is tied for ninth in Pac-12 Conference annals and placed third on the school's all-time record chart. His 52.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage (43 solos, 21 assists) are tied for 17th on the conference all-time record chart and is fifth-best in Stanford history.

Murphy has made a "habit" of coming up with big plays. During his last three seasons as a starter, he delivered 16 touchdown-saving tackles (10 vs. the run, six vs. the pass). He has also had a hand in killing 40 potential scoring drives, registering 34 of his tackles on third-down snaps and four more on fourth-down plays (forced the opponent to either punt or attempt a field goal), in addition to causing one fumble and returning his first two career interceptions for touchdowns.

While most rush linebackers are usually known for their ability to wreak havoc in the back-field, Murphy has quietly put together impressive numbers in pass defense. He has had 81 passes targeted into his territory, but the opposition has completed only eight of those tosses (9.88 pass completion percentage). In addition to his interceptions, he has batted down 11 other throws and rerouted/jammed his coverage assignment away from 50 of those attempts (61.73%).

With his field savvy, size, strength and quickness, Murphy has drawn comparisons to former New England Patriots' All-Pro, Mike Vrabel. Much like Vrabel, the Cardinal defender is powerful enough to engage bigger offensive tackles when playing on the line, and also has the backpedal speed and ball anticipation skills to drop back in pass coverage like a strong safety. He has also compiled a "nice" resume as a multi-sports performer, having lettered with the Stanford track team in 2011, performing in the discus.

Prior to his arrival in Palo Alto, California, Trenton Allen Murphy was a standout strong-side defensive end for Brophy College Prep head coach Scooter Molander. He also was a member of the school's outdoor track team and basketball squad. Used mostly as a reserve during his sophomore season, his two-sack performance vs. Gilbert High in 2006 convinced Molander that he had a rising star on his roster.

In 2007, Murphy led the Broncos to a 12-0 record and the state title as a junior, despite missing a third of the schedule (month of October) with a broken leg suffered vs. Mesa High. He finished with 37 tackles (15 solos), 3.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a pair of fumble recoveries, including one that he advanced for a touchdown vs. Corona del Sol.

He also joined the Broncos' track team. In just his second prep event in the discus, he placed second at the Arizona Class 5A-I State Championships with a toss of 159'-7".

Murphy's senior gridiron campaign was his best at Brophy Prep. The team was the Arizona Class 5A-1 state runner-up, as the defensive end contributed 59 tackles with 9.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries, returning one for a score vs. St. Mary's. He also found the end zone in brief action on offense, catching an 18-yard touch-down pass in the Mountain Ridge clash. He also excelled on special teams, blocking two field goals.

For that performance, the team captain was named the 2008 Arizona Republic All-State Defensive Player of the Year. The Arizona State Coaches Association, East Valley Tribune and Arizona Republic all placed him on their All-State first-team and he was the recipient of the Arizona Interscholastic Association Scholar Athlete Award.

Even with all those football honors, Murphy was also recognized for his outstanding performances in the discus during his senior season. In 10 events, he finished first in the discus six times and placed second in three others. At the Arcadia Invitational, he finished second with a career-best toss of 192'-6.63". He went on to capture the discus (181'-3") and shot put (42'-8") at the 5A-1 Desert Valley Region Championships, held at Shadow Mountain High. It was the first time he ever performed competitively in the shot put.

Recruited by D.J. Dukes, Murphy committed to attend Stanford University on August 24th, 2008. Arriving on campus in 2009, he did not see action with the football team that season, retaining four years of eligibility. He made his debut vs. Sacramento State in 2010, coming up with his first career sack, but the following week, vs. UCLA, he suffered a leg injury that would sideline him for the rest of the schedule.

Murphy worked hard throughout his rehabilitation and claimed a starting job at right out-side linebacker in 2011, starting all 13 games. He was only eighth on the team with 40 tackles, but placed second on the unit with 6.5 sacks and tied for third with 10 stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Murphy's ability to upend ball carriers helped the Cardinal improve from 19th in the nation in rush defense (120.85 ypg) in 2010 to third in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision ranks (84.38 ypg) in 2011. That was largely due to the redshirt sophomore making 37 of his plays vs. the ground game, holding those runners to minus-24 yards. He produced seven touchdown-saving tackles, making six third-down hits, along with posting 12 stops inside the red zone, including six on goal-line stands.

Murphy continued to be the "quiet assassin" for the Cardinal as a junior, but his stellar play saw him be named the team's recipient of the Jack Huston Award (an honor given for exceptional performance and unheralded efforts), along with picking up All-American (third-team) and All-Pac 12 Conference (first-team) accolades. Having added close to 20 pounds of muscle to his frame, the chiseled athlete was credited with 56 tackles (38 solos) in 2011.

The junior also led the Cardinal and ranked 29th in the nation with 10 sacks, also pacing the team with 18.0 stops-for-loss, the most by a Stanford player since Riall Johnson made 20 stops behind the line of scrimmage in 2000. His 10 sacks were also the most for the team since Johnson tallied 15 during the 2000 schedule.

Stanford led the conference and placed fifth nationally in run defense, yielding 97.0 yards per game. That impressive figure was aided by Murphy posting 45 hits on opposing ball carriers, good for losses totaling 18 yards. He had a total of eight touchdown-saving tackles and rerouted his pass coverage assignment away from 29-of-49 passes targeted into his area, as he also returned an interception 40 yards for a score vs. Washington while batting down four other throws (only six passes into his area was completed).

Many professional scouts felt that Murphy would leave school and enter the 2013 NFL Draft, but he decided to return to the university for his final campaign, earning consensus All-Pac 12 Conference and All-American preseason honors. "It is a great place here [at Stanford] and I felt I had some unfinished business, the Cardinal senior stated when questioned about his decision to return to school.

"I still want to be part of this team. We have one of the biggest classes of fifth-year seniors we have had in a long time. These are my buddies, the guys who I came in with. We're trying to finish what we started. As a player, I feel I'm fairly young and I have a lot to improve on. I felt another year would be good for me."

While most scouts project the Stanford prospect as a defensive end, Murphy spent the 2013 off-season weightlifting and also working on improving his overall agility and quickness. "I worked on a lot of redirection stuff, explosion with my hips," the senior noted. "There was a ton of things to work on. I don't rest my laurels on anything. There were conditioning days when they took our legs out and we had no energy left."

"Then I would work on my dropping when I was exhausted. That's the best time to do it, when you are exhausted. That's when you stand tall and still keep your hips low, while being able to redirect." Murphy hopes that his "body of work" will convince other scouts that he is a perfect fit to also be considered as a linebacker, especially in a league [NFL] that seems to be embracing the read-option made popular by San Francisco, Seattle and Washington the past two seasons.

"The Pac-12 has as good of athletes as any as far as running backs go," Murphy states. "We have some mobile quarterbacks, which is something that hurt us a lot last year. We'd have a good pass rush, everyone covered, then, all of a sudden they would take off running. That's the thing about the mobile quarterbacks, keeping him in the pocket and containing him."

Murphy was also named to the 2013 watch lists for the Bednarik Award (presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year), Bronko Nagurski Award (best defensive player in college football), Butkus Award (nation's most outstanding linebacker) and Rotary Lombardi Award (college's most outstanding lineman).

In "typical No. 93 fashion," Murphy terrorized opposing backfields, recording a career-high 15 sacks, which is tied for second on the school season-record chart and 11th on the Pac-12 annual list. He delivered 23.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage, the best total in the league and fourth-best in the FBS ranks. He returned his second career interception for a touchdown and recorded a career-high 62 tackles.


Murphy appeared in 44 games, starting 42 contests, as he recorded 160 tackles (102 solos) with 31.5 sacks for minus 221 yards, 52.5 stops for losses totaling 287 yards, 17 quarterback pressures and two forced fumbles…Returned both of his interceptions for touchdowns totaling 70 yards, deflected 11 other tosses and blocked one kick.

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