Cole Murphy Signed to Stabilize Special Teams
Kicker Cole Murphy has been quickly proving his worth to the Michigan Panthers. Early in the season Jeff Fisher and company believed their best chance for success, was to draft a punter and have him operate as the kicker as well.
USFL Draft Strategy
This was a relatively common occurrence during the initial USFL Draft. This was due to the smaller rosters, forcing coaches to save roster spots however they could. One of the ways many teams thought they could save roster spots was to bring in dual-threat specialists.
We saw two of these men do battle only a couple of weeks ago when Philadelphia, and Michigan played. Michigan Punter Michael Carrizosa would ultimately miss a 21-yard game-winning field goal attempt. While Matt Mengel of the stars scored 14 points and collected Special Teams Player of the Week. However, before the following week, both dual-threat specialists for these teams were released.
Who is Cole Murphy?
The man brought in to shore up the kicking game for the Michigan Panthers was none other than Cole Murphy. Arizona Cardinal fans might remember Murphy from his cup of coffee with the team back in 2019. Despite not sticking with the NFL, recently Murphy has found tremendous success with the USFL.
Cole Murphy attended Syracuse for college. He however wasn’t the most accurate of kickers during his 4-year career. He graduated with a 71% conversion rate on field goals with 4 kicks blocked over his final 3 seasons.
However, Murphy did display an ability to hit long kicks during his college career. He was also the primary kick-off specialist for 3 of his 4 seasons, showcasing his ability to handle the double duty. His best season was ironically his freshman year when he missed just 3 kicks all season long.
His best game wouldn’t come until 2016 in week one his team would face Colgate. During this game, Murphy was 4 of 4 on field goals, and 3 of 3 on extra-point attempts while blasting 8 kickoffs for 503 yards as well.
After college, it took a little while for Murphy to gain some traction in the professional world. Despite graduating in 2017, he went undrafted and didn’t get signed right away. He would sign with the San Diego Fleet of the Alliance of American Football in 2019. In this Spring League, there were no point after attempts, or kicks-offs leaving him to focus strictly on field goals.
Ironically if not for the USFL, Cole Murphy might have looked to the XFL in 2023 for his next job. He crossed paths with former tight ends coach Anthony Becht who was tabbed to be a first-time head coach for the XFL.
As mentioned above his first NFL opportunity came with the Arizona Cardinals nearly 2 years removed from graduation. This chance was fairly short-lived for Murphy. He was released before getting to play in a game.
Absence Makes the…Leg Grow Stronger?
It was quite a while before Murphy was given another opportunity to prove himself, and it wasn’t until nearly 5 years after his last game in college that he got to step foot on the field in a game situation.
Jeff Fisher and the Michigan Panthers knew they needed to improve at kicker following the missed game-winning kick by Carrizosa. He just wasn’t sure where to look. That’s when Cole Murphy’s name came up. Fisher is likely extremely glad it did too.
Since signing Cole Murphy the Panther special teams unit has seen a complete turnaround. Murphy has missed just 1 kick in 3 weeks so far. Going 7 of 8 on field goals, and 5 for 5 on extra points. On top of that in just his second week with the Panthers, he collected Special Teams player of the week honors.
Well…spoiler alert….there is a good chance he wins it again following his performance in the Week 7 overtime match-up with the New Orleans Breakers. Murphy had a huge game for the Panthers once again showcasing his big leg. Coming into the weekend Murphy hadn’t missed a kick yet.
Week 7 Performance
However coming out of his performance in week 7, I don’t think anyone will be talking about the kick he missed thanks to this highlight:
Cole Murphy just hit a 60-yard field goal, and it looks like it could have been good from even a few yards longer. That wasn’t all, Murphy went 4 of 5 on field goals, and 1 of 1 on extra points. He accounts for 13 of the 27 points scored by the Michigan Panthers in this game.
Now the question becomes, is Cole Murphy the best kicker in the USFL?
Cardswire Article about Cole Murphy signing with Arizona:
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