New challenge helped bring long snapper to Bison football team
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Michael Murphy flew into Youngstown-Warren Airport on Friday, a destination that is almost the entire way across the country from where he played football at this time last year. He went to North Dakota State for a different ex...
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Michael Murphy flew into Youngstown-Warren Airport on Friday, a destination that is almost the entire way across the country from where he played football at this time last year. He went to North Dakota State for a different experience - and he's getting it.
He's the long snapper, and if you don't know who he is, that's probably a good thing.
"That's a great thing," he said.
Somehow, the Bison seem to reload with good ones every time they need to. Just how the true freshman Murphy got to NDSU is an exercise in family and adventure from his hometown of Hollister, Calif.
"My friends back home think I'm absolutely crazy for coming up here, but I didn't want to stay home," he said. "I wanted to try new things and I absolutely love it out here."
Murphy really isn't new to the area. His grandparents, Ted and Bonnie Kiepke, live in Detroit Lakes, Minn. His great grandfather lives in Fargo.
With the connection, he came to the NDSU summer football camp after his junior year at San Benito High School and was hoping to get a look by the Bison coaches - as a linebacker.
That was his trade in high school - he's fourth all-time in tackles at San Benito with 297 - that's how he was hoping to land a scholarship. Sacramento State was talking to him as well as some smaller schools in the area.
But NDSU came back into the picture with the long-snapping job. It wasn't why he was at the Bison summer camp, so he sent them some film from high school, which the coaches liked.
"It was kind of funny how that worked out," Murphy said. "I always thought that if linebacker didn't work out, the one thing I could rely on is to long snap."
It's the first crucial piece to the punting and placekicking puzzle. If Murphy is wild, the whole unit blows up and so far, that hasn't happened.
"I've never worried about the snap," said punter John Prelvitz. "He's doing a great job and that's comforting."
NDSU had the dependable Jeff Curtis for Prelvitz's first two years as the starting punter.
"I heard he was coming in and I was like, 'OK, we're getting a guy from California,'" Prelvitz said. "I think he came in mid-July and we started working together. He has some velocity, but we just had to dial down his accuracy. He's progressed a lot since July, I can tell you that."
The Bison go into the Youngstown State game today leading the country in net punting. Murphy will say it's mainly because of Prelvitz's 44.3-yard average.
But it's also due to what's-his-name who is the long snapper.
Murphy would like to keep it that way.
"It's the pressure of the job, it's one of those things that everyone is expecting of you," he said. "It's like a pitcher, you're expecting the pitcher to throw a strike. You're not expecting him to throw it over the catcher's head. It's one of those things where I'm just trying to do my job."
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.
Kolpack's NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia