Desmond Trufant, Marcus Peters, Sidney Jones. Byron Murphy is the next star in a growing line of star cornerbacks from the real DBU. A four-star recruit coming out of Scottsdale, Arizona, Husky fans knew about Murphy from the second he stepped on campus. He was the top recruit in Chris Petersen’s 2016 class and redshirted behind the star-studded Husky secondary that included Jones, Budda Baker and Kevin King. That might have been Murphy’s best weapon. He was able to learn from a bunch of NFL stars, along with arguably the best DB coach in the country, Jimmy Lake, and looked ready to burst on the scene in 2017.
That was evident from day one. Murphy had the best debut that he could ask for, picking off Rutgers quarterback Kyle Bolin twice. After a solid start in the non-conference schedule, Murphy looked ready to truly make his name against the top competition in the Pac-12. Then he broke his foot in practice before Washington’s first Pac-12 matchup of the year against Colorado. Murphy was already putting together a very promising season with three pass break-ups and the two picks. The foot injury sidelined Murphy for two months and only played in three games after coming back. Over the next three games, including the Fiesta Bowl, Murphy recorded four passes defensed and an interception. His play, especially against Trace McSorley and Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl, showed the country that he’s an elite defensive back.
Now, in 2018, Murphy has lived up to some of the toughest tests he’s faced. One of the biggest questions at the next level is his size. Yet, he helped hold 6’4″ N’Keal Harry, a likely first-round pick, to five catches for 20 yards. He’s also among the NCAA leaders with 11 pass break-ups this season.
This weekend, Murphy might face a bigger test in Laviska Shenault Jr. He’s been one of the best receivers in the country and was named a consensus first-team midseason All-American by the AP, Sports Illustrated and ESPN. It’s also worth noting that Murphy made Sports Illustrated’s second team. Shenault, who barely saw the field as a freshman has blossomed into one of the best receivers in the country during his sophomore season. Shenault, through six games, has 60 catches and 780 yards. He’s also totaled 11 touchdowns already, with six touchdown receptions and the other five on rushes. Washington, coming off a tough loss against Oregon needs a big rebound. Colorado QB Steven Montez has been the most accurate passer in the Pac-12, and in order for the Huskies to get back on track with a win, it starts with Byron Murphy. Locking down Shenault would be a huge factor for a Washington victory.