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Former Buc Great Stepping up at Bama
August 31, 2010Hoover High School
Scarbinsky: Hoover's Kerry Murphy finds redemption at Alabama at last
Published: Tuesday, August 31, 2010, 5:30 AM
Fill in the blank. Kerry Murphy will never ... a) Make it to Alabama. b) Make it at Alabama. c) Play at Alabama. d) Play a key role at Alabama. e) All of the above.
Raise your hand if you made any of the above statements at any point since Feb. 7, 2007, when Murphy signed with Alabama. Rush Propst would like you to admit your mistake.
"There were a lot of doubters out there," said Propst, who coached Murphy at Hoover High School. "I would like to hear those people now. Where are those people now? I don't care if it was Hoover community people or Alabama fans or Auburn fans.
"That kid has proven a lot to be where he is today."
On Monday, when Alabama released its first depth chart for the 2010 season, five days before the exhibition against San Jose State, Murphy was listed right there under former Hoover teammate Josh Chapman at nose guard.
The chart says Murphy or Nick Gentry is the backup to Chapman, but that's not what the head coach said when I asked about Murphy.
"He and Chapman have gone kind of back and forth," Nick Saban said. "Right now, Chapman has a little more experience. ... (Murphy) definitely has a role on the team and is competing to be a starter and will play as much in the rotation as the starters do."
Chapman agreed with Saban. If there's an either-or at nose guard, it's either him or Murphy.
"I guess they say I'm starting, but me and him are both gonna get the same amount of reps, just like me and TC did," Chapman said. "When the other gets tired, we roll in, just like that."
TC, if course, is Terrence Cody. He arrived at Alabama as a cult figure and departed as an All-American. Chapman got lost in his shadow, as do most human beings and small buildings, but he played a significant role himself last year in the middle of the defensive front.
Now Murphy, going beyond his freakish ability to do a standing back flip, is pushing Chapman the way Chapman pushed Cody. Saban said Murphy "probably will play a little more in nickel situations than Josh does because he is a little better pass rusher."
Consider the irony. The Hoover teammates may have signed with Alabama on the same day, but they've taken different roads to this rotation.
Murphy has done anything but rush.
He didn't qualify academically out of Hoover, then went to Hargrave Military Academy, then wasn't able to enroll at Alabama until January, 2009. He was a bit player on last year's national championship team.
The last time he really made a splash was the summer and fall of 2007. The Birmingham News identified him and Chapman as two players at the center of retired judge Sam Pointer Jr.'s investigation into the Hoover football program.
The Pointer report determined that human error led to a grade change that allowed Chapman to be eligible as a freshman at Alabama. He played the first three games in 2007 but then earned a medical redshirt. He backed up Cody in 2008 - starting twice when Cody while hurt - and 2009.
The report also said that two Hoover administrators "lost their objectivity and self-restraint" in their attempts to help Murphy in the classroom.
The report didn't paint Hoover or the players, especially Murphy, in a flattering light. Three years later, they'll be the men in the middle - in a good way - for the defending champs.
There's a word for that journey, according to their old high school coach.
"What's the word I'm looking for?" Propst said. "It's justice. All that stuff they went through at Hoover, the scrutiny they were under. Justice has been served for both of them to be where they are today. I'm very, very proud of both of them."
Chapman, the 6-foot-1, 310-pound fourth-year junior, and Murphy, the 6-4, 319-pound sophomore, hang out on and off the field. Chapman said his friend loves music.
"He's a big Bob Marley fan," Chapman said. "He likes that reggae."
Murphy must love one Marley piece in particular. "Redemption Song."