On Saturday, the Hokies locked down someone that Justin Fuente has had his eyes on for years while most coaches haven’t, junior college athlete Henri Murphy.
The three-star junior college athlete was a part of the Class of 2017 but will move to the 2016 class and enroll next month after committing to the Hokies yesterday. However, Murphy will not be able to compete during the next academic year due to NCAA rules regarding junior college transfers, but he will compete in both football, and track and field.
The thing that will get fans most excited about Murphy is the fact that he is a speedster that is listed by some at 4.35 for a 40-yard dash. In watching his highlight tape, Murphy seems to also be fairly smart on kickoff returns, evaluating his options quickly and then turning up the speed while his stride seems to be almost effortless in some cases.
Multiple times as a wide receiver and returner, Murphy shows off his impressive speed and gets impressive separation over a long distance at the receiver spot or makes it hard for players staying back to get in his way quick enough to stop him on a return.
Murphy has the talent to be a very dangerous return man and it would not surprise me at all if Murphy was returning kicks for the Hokies during the 2017 season.
Murphy played some defensive back in high school but his junior college highlight tape shows no videos of him playing defense. Murphy projects to be a cornerback that in high school shows some good ball skills while his athleticism will make him someone that CBs coach Brian Mitchell likely will be looking forward to working with and developing.
The fact that Murphy will have a year to practice and develop before playing is advantageous as he will clearly need some time to develop some of the natural cornerback skills needed to have success at a high level in the ACC.
However, Murphy’s athleticism will make him a threat at the collegiate level and if it doesn’t work out for him at cornerback, a move to wide receiver should be quite easy given his speed and his time spent at the position in high school and junior college.
Murphy would definitely be a deep ball threat that has the talent to out-run every player while having the smarts to cut back and make a play on the football if it gets underthrown. Murphy’s speed makes him an intriguing slot receiver that could be useful in getting separation quickly in man coverage or become useful on bubble screens.
With Murphy arriving as a part of the 2016 class, a move to wide receiver may not happen till at least sometime next spring but it will definitely be something to watch.
Henri Murphy is a great athletic addition to the Hokies that has all the makings of being a very good kick returner and has big upside at either cornerback or wide receiver. The question remains as to whether Murphy will end up being a cornerback in the long run or will he end up back at wide receiver?