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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Stanford linebacker knows how to ‘cowboy up’

One wonders if Stanford linebacker Trent Murphy thought this after sacking USC quarterback Matt Barkley twice in the Cardinal’s 21-14 win over the Trojans back on Sept. 15:

“That’s nothing compared to roping or grappling steers.”

Murphy, who roped and wrestled steers as a youth back in Mesa, Ariz., has “cowboyed up” the past one-plus seasons with a total of 8.5 sacks for the Cardinal. The 6-foot-6, 261-pound Murphy dropped Barkley for a 13-yard loss early in the second quarter. Barkley coughed up the ball, but it was recovered by the Trojans.

As Stanford was salting away the game late in the fourth quarter, Murphy sacked Barkley a second time. Murphy, who plays on the weak side, has 12 tackles this season, 4.5 for a loss. Murphy gets his 17th career start when the Cardinal visits Seattle’s CenturyLink Field on Thursday evening to take on Washington.

Murphy, born in Scottsdale, Ariz., spent several years trying to contain steers as a youth. His father, Jerry, was a team roper at rodeos.

“I’ve been in a couple of small rodeos, but I wouldn’t call them rodeos,” said Trent Murphy, one of six children. “When we moved to a neighborhood when I was young, we joined a club and bought a horse. One horse turned into six. We got a couple of steers and built a little roping arena. My father was a big guy to be on a horse. I felt bad for the horse. It was a fun time before my football days got too serious in high school.”

Murphy starred at Brophy Prep in Phoenix and as a senior, Murphy recorded 59 tackles, 9.5 sacks, two blocked field goals and had three fumble recoveries. Ranked the 19th-best recruit in Arizona by, Murphy was tabbed the all-state Defensive Player of the Year by the Arizona Republic.

The Broncos won the 5A-1 title Murphy’s freshman and junior years, losing in the state final by seven points when he was a senior.

“Trent was one of the best players we’ve had here,” said Brophy Prep coach Scooter Molander, in his eighth season. “He was a great leader and brought passion to the game and to practice. You could give Trent multiple calls and he wouldn’t get bogged down. He was a smart football player.”

Murphy was brought up to varsity as a freshman, when he played on the scout team during practices.

“He was 6-5, 190, going up against our big linemen,” Molander said. “They’d pull out, he’d take them on and never complain.”

One time, Murphy took on an 800-pound cow when he was messing around on his ranch. The story is as long as the cow was big.

“We had a male baby cow that someone gave to us as a gift,” Murphy said. “We would go out and play with it every day. You could pet it, so it was used to people. It was friendlier than most cows.”

Murphy returned from college after his freshman year and the baby cow had gotten somewhat bigger in Murphy’s absence.

“Now it was a full-grown male cow,” Murphy said. “I still thought it was that playful cow, which it still was, at heart. I jumped in the pen and started pushing on his head. I grabbed its horns for a second. It started getting playful, but it’s an 800-pound cow. It started getting territorial, so we got into this pushing match. I grabbed both of its horns, but it tried to drive me back and run me over. So I gave it one tug back and it went up on its hind legs. I turned around and booked it, then hopped over the fence.

It wasn’t the smartest thing to do. My mother did not approve of that.”

So going up against football players is nothing for Murphy, right? “The football players can plan,” Murphy said. “They can think a little more than cows.”

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