Nixa’s Alec Murphy may or may not be a great artist.
“I paint,” said Murphy. “I do have some paintings at home. My grandmother is an artist, so sometimes if I’m feeling stressed out or just bored, I pop out a canvas and just start painting a picture or something. I did a landscape picture the other day. It was pretty nice, like a tree with background and all that good stuff.”
Murphy may or may not be a great singer. “I love to sing,” he said. “I’m in Nixa choir. I’ve been singing for three years now. We have an awesome choir program. I’m a tenor one. The choir program is awesome, so I love it.”
One of Murphy’s talents that is not up for debate, though, is his skill carrying a football. The senior running back has made an oral commitment to play Division I football in the Southeastern Conference next season at Mississippi State, and is ranked as the #8 player in the entire state by Rivals.com.
“He’s big, strong and fast, which is a great combination for a running back,” said Nixa head coach Richard Rehagen. “He’s very athletic. We have been lucky to have many great running backs. I hate to compare, but let’s just say he is way up on the list. He has a great combination of size and speed.”
Murphy committed to Mississippi State on July 17. The Mississippi native felt at home in Starkville.
“Mississippi State reminds me of my high school and home,” said Murphy, who is a top-50 running back nationally according to multiple recruiting outlets. “The program and people are awesome. I feel blessed to get the chance to play in a great conference. It means I will have the chance to get better and be one step closer to my dream.”
By committing prior to his senior season, Murphy can focus solely on football this fall. “There is less stress during the season, so I can just focus on performing my best,” he said.
Virtually every big-name program in the region had shown interest in the 6-foot 221-pound back. The list of suitors included most of the Big 10 schools, as well as local programs like Missouri, Arkansas, and Kansas State.
“I am very excited for him,” said Rehagen. “It is a good school and a great opportunity for him. I am very happy for him. By committing now, there will be less for him to worry about as a senior. This is our first D-I player, so that is great for our program.”
Murphy played some varsity as a freshman, but truly burst on the scene as a sophomore, in which he rushed for 846 yards on 94 carries and 10 touchdowns. Last season, Murphy rushed 209 times for 1,793 yards and 22 touchdowns. That’s a gaudy 8.7 yards per rush over the past two seasons for the talented tailback.
Murphy got a delayed start to his senior season this fall after a brush with the law this summer resulted in a one-game suspension. Murphy was cited for shoplifting, but ultimately pled guilty to the reduced charge of defective equipment, which will not remain on his permanent record. Murphy sat out the season opener against state-ranked Helias, a 27-2 loss.
“What happened was stupid on my part, but I found out that my community supports me just as much as my team,” said Murphy. “I’m very thankful. It’s not something I’ll repeat.”
Murphy made his 2014 debut on Aug. 29 against Class 6 powerhouse Francis Howell. He carried 26 times for 159 yards in the Eagles’ 42-10 loss. He followed that up by rushing for 152 yards on just 16 carries on Sept. 5 against Branson. More importantly, Murphy’s four touchdowns led Nixa to a 37-2 victory in the COC-Large opener for the Eagles. Murphy left the Eagles' loss to Willard last Friday with a left knee injury, and had carried four times for 11 yards prior to leaving the game.
Nixa will need Murphy in peak form tonight, as the Eagles take a trip to four-time defending Class 4 state champion Webb City. The Eagles went toe-to-toe with the Cardinals a year ago, with Webb City escaping Nixa with a 27-24 overtime win.
In addition to the Webb City contest, there is also the annual match-up with arch-rival Ozark on Oct. 3. Murphy broke free for five touchdowns and 256 yards on just 10 carries in a 45-7 romp over the Tigers last season.
Murphy is on pace to break the 4,000-yard barrier for his career. He would also like to win a district title and go to State. The Eagles have lost district title games to Ozark and Kickapoo, respectively, the past two seasons. Murphy also sees room for improvement as he prepares for the college game.
“Football-wise, I definitely am working on my route running, and also my blocking,” said Murphy. “You can cut block in college football, but in high school you can’t really do that. I definitely want to keep my confidence up and adjust to the speed of the game and help my teammates out.”
With his college decision made, Alec Murphy can concentrate solely on improving his game and being one of the top running backs in the state this fall. Unless, of course, he’s busy taking time out to paint or sing.