The Buccaneers signed Louis Murphy last March to help bolster their wide receiver position, and the St. Petersburg native is happy to be back home in the Tampa Bay area. Murphy says his versatility is one of the strengths he brings to the Bucs.
Hometown product Louis Murphy, Jr. couldn’t be happier with how everything has worked out.
Murphy, who attended Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, Fla., signed with the University of Florida after graduation. Now less than a decade later, the 6-2, 200-pound receiver returned home and signed as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last March.
“It’s a dream come true, it’s a dream come true," Murphy said. "Growing up in St. Pete, I’ve been a Bucs fan my whole life and being able to come here and have an opportunity to play here and finish my career here, there's no better opportunity in my eyes. I just thank God every day for that.”
Murphy, who began his career in Oakland, was traded to Carolina prior to the 2012 season, then signed a one-year contract with the New York Giants last year. In five NFL seasons, Murphy has totaled 121 receptions for 1,744 yards and eight touchdowns.
Following a recent mini-camp practice at One Buccaneer Place, Murphy has been a Tampa Bay since he was a child.
“Probably since I was 5 years old,” Murphy said. “Since the creamsicle orange days, the Tony Dungy days and then [Jon] Gruden won the championship. It’s a dream come true.”
Murphy has been excited to see Dungy around One Buccaneer Place since Lovie Smith was hired to coach the Buccaneers last January. The two men coached together in Tampa Bay from 1996-2000.
“Yeah, I saw Coach Dungy (and) I spoke to him the last time he was out here,” Murphy said. “Watching him as a kid with the whole team – Warrick Dunn, Mike Alstott, Keyshawn Johnson, Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Simeon Rice. Then to see Tony Dungy, who was the head of all that? Being a fan and being from here, I had to go over there and introduce myself and he told me he knew me and I was like, ‘What’? It was cool though.”
Smith recently talked positive about the former Gators standout, who is vying with rookie Mike Evans, the team's first-round draft pick in 2014, for a starting spot opposite Vincent Jackson. Murphy has also spent some time lined up inside, so being the team's starting slot receiver next to Jackson and Evans is also an option.
“Local guy, Louis had a couple of big plays,” Smith said. “Hasn’t missed anything and has just made play after play. We have a lot of that type of competition going on of players that were in the background when I first got here that we’re taking notice [of].”
Murphy was asked about what he feels he brings to the Buccaneers, and his versatility is something he thinks can help him.
“I feel good about my vertical strengths that are what I’ve been known for throughout my career – catching the deep ball,” Murphy said. “I’m able to play inside and outside, stretching the field. Wherever they put me I think I’ll be able to do well there.
“The way God worked it all out; this is the perfect situation for one of the best coaches in the NFL. I get to do my charity work and getting to come back and help with my non-profit back home.”– Taylor Brown and Mark Cook contributed on this story
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