Cecil Murphy IV has learned to be content in his circumstances. The Gavilan College sophomore was raised in Tampa, Fla., under difficult circumstances. Money was hard to come by, and at times the Murphy family didn’t have enough funds to provide light in the house, Cecil said.
Cecil’s dad, Cecil Jr., rode his bike to work, which took two hours—one way. Through it all, Murphy never felt like he was poor; instead, he spent plenty of time outside doing what kids do—play.
“My parents (Tami Mosley and Cecil Jr.) never let us know we were struggling,” Murphy said. “They showed us love, but in the back of my mind I always knew something was wrong. But they always kept us happy, kept food on the table and a roof over our heads. It was very hard at times, but probably the best days of my life.”
With that type of attitude, what event—on or off the field—could ever shake Murphy? Murphy credits his Christian faith as the main reason for having a grateful attitude, which has been vital to his success on the gridiron. The sophomore multi-position player—Murphy is the starting strong safety and long snapper, but he also gets some reps at running back and on the kickoff unit.
“I will play any position that can help the team get a win,” he said.
When asked how he was able to play such a variety of positions, Murphy said, “God blessed me with a lot of talent.” Since Murphy rarely comes off the field, the 23-year-old has to keep himself in great shape and make sure he’s got plenty of fluids in his body, starting a couple of days before a game.
“I drink a lot of Pedialite (an electrolyte solution) before the game,” he said.
The 5-foot-9, 184-pound Murphy dropped 31 pounds in the off-season with the goal to play safety this season. Last year, Murphy played linebacker and was too heavy to play the safety position effectively.
“I wasn’t in football shape last year (after not playing for three years),” he said. “So after last season ended, I knew I had to go really strong in the weight room to make sure I would get back to playing defensive back this season.”
Murphy worked out twice a day, first in the morning with trainer K.C. Adams and then with the team in the afternoon. Murphy said he didn’t drastically overhaul his diet to shed the pounds; however, he did point to a couple of beverages as key to his weight loss.
“Every morning and night I drank apple cider vinegar and green tea,” he said. “I still drink those everyday.”
Even though it’s been a tough season for Gavilan, it’s no fault of Murphy. The 2015 graduate out of Andrews High in South Carolina has five interceptions this season, including two in the season-opener. Murphy credited the coaching staff along with his talent and willingness to learn as keys to his standout season.
“Coach Lango’s preparation in getting the defensive backs to flip our hips and get the right footwork down allows us to make plays,” he said. “I make a lot of plays because I hustle to the ball, and I’ve got good football awareness.”
In the season-opener against Los Medanos, Murphy’s two interceptions came by reading the quarterback’s eyes, watching a lot of video and disguising his coverage. Even though Murphy takes his greatest pride at safety, he was downright euphoric—and rightly so—when he returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown against Monterey Peninsula College.
Murphy’s road to Gavilan was not a straight-line path. Murphy played four years at Andrews High in South Carolina, but he received scant interest from four-year schools. Not wanting to start his eligibility clock, Murphy didn’t enroll in college until the 2016 spring semester, at Louisburg College in North Carolina.
However, Murphy never ended up suiting up for Louisburg, and after one semester as a full-time student, he left the college and looked at other options. Nothing materialized, so Murphy moved back home and started working.
“I ended up getting a job doing construction with my dad,” he said. “I always told myself I would never do construction, but it turned out alright.”
During that time, Murphy’s co-workers encouraged him to not give up on his dream of playing college football. They had seen Murphy’s highlight videos and even in person when he starred at Andrews High, and wanted to see him realize his potential.
“They said I had another chance and felt I should go for it because most of them didn’t get a second chance to pursue their dreams,” Murphy said.
Murphy started reaching out to various college coaches, but nothing materialized until he contacted a childhood friend who happened to be playing at Gavilan. Murphy then contacted the Gavilan coaches, and arrived in Gilroy in August 2017, just a month before the start of the season. Despite having never been to California, Murphy felt no qualms about moving cross country to play football.
“To be honest, it took me only a week to decide because I missed football so much,” he said. “I finally got an opportunity, so I didn’t think too hard about it. It was more for the love of the game and I had to go. I knew there would be some ups and downs, but my love for the game made the decision a lot easier.”
When Murphy says he has a love for the game, he means it. Murphy started playing organized football when he was 5—“In Florida, they start you young,” he said—so getting on a flight to an unknown place wasn’t all that strange. Murphy’s decision turned out to be a great one, as he has a chance to transfer and play at a four-year school.
Even if that doesn’t materialize, Murphy plans on focusing on school and earn his degree to become a physical therapist. Murphy is driven to make his family proud. After being raised in Tampa, the Murphy family moved to Andrews before the start of his freshman year. Tampa and Andrews couldn’t be more different.
Whereas Tampa is a metropolitan city, Andrews was the exact opposite, a town of under 3,000 people with a couple of stoplights.
“Our house was off a dirt road,” Murphy said. “There wasn’t many things to do in Andrews, so you entertained yourself. I learned to shoot the gun with my granddaddy, ride dirt bikes or sit in the house and watch TV. You just find ways to enjoy yourself.”
Despite being raised under adversity, Murphy stayed strong and relied on his family’s strength to keep going. Not only has difficult circumstances made him tougher, it has provided him with plenty of drive.
“I’ve been through a lot, but it keeps me motivated,” he said. “I always remember pain is temporary.”