Former North standout Gunner Murphy gets new start at Glenville State
Feb. 21—FAIRMONT — Transfers from one school to another in collegiate sports are not rare, especially not in recent years with the dominance of the NCAA's transfer portal.
But transferring from one sport to another takes on a set of special circumstances.
Such is the situation former North Marion High multi-sport star Gunner Murphy has found himself in at present.
A 2020 graduate of North Marion High, Murphy initially signed on to play basketball at Marietta College of the Ohio Athletic Conference.
After two seasons on the hardwood, Murphy was looking for a change.
"I just wasn't enjoying basketball as much as I had in the past," Murphy said. "And throughout high school, I'd always really enjoyed football."
On Feb. 1, the Glenville State Pioneers made an announcement.
"Welcome [Gunner Murphy] to the Ville" the Glenville's football Twitter account read, with an accompanying video identifying the Barrackville narrative as transferring from Marietta — a true statement, though it was belaying the big story.
Murphy is preparing for a season of football for the first time since his senior season of high school with team activities already starting for Murphy and his new team.
"Coach [Mike] Kellar recruited me out of high school, and I wanted to try it out again," Murphy said. "It's something I want to do. I thought about it for awhile, found the process, and I hit up Coach Kellar and he was all for it."
Murphy was all-conference first team and an all-state honorable mention in football, but in basketball, well, there was little doubt which sport the then-Husky would pursue at the next level.
A three time all-state performer in basketball, Murphy finished second all-time in school history with 1,162 points, and first in school history with 145 made 3-pointers.
Since signing with Marietta, Murphy has appeared in 18 games over two seasons, averaging just a few minutes per outing.
Something wasn't working, and with an already-established connection to Glenville State still through Kellar, a family friend as well as a recruiter of Murphy's in high school, Murphy took a swing.
"[Kellar] kind of understood that I was going to play basketball coming out of high school," Murphy said. "I'd been thinking about it for awhile after I wasn't enjoying basketball as much, and I wanted to play football again. I had to reach out to him this time, but he was all for it and he's helped me out greatly so far."
The change would be drastic — not merely unfulfilled at his current school, it was the sport itself that Murphy wasn't quite as hooked on like he was before. Things change with time, and it seems time's passage led back to the gridiron for Murphy.
"I think football in high school for me may have taken a little bit of a backseat to basketball," he said. "I think all the coaches and teammates around me would've told you that.
"I enjoyed basketball back in high school, but I also really enjoyed football — just something about being outside playing on Friday nights, the way the game happens at the position I play at quarterback, it really interested me and I wanted to take that next step to the next level after playing basketball for a few years."
Making the decision in his mind was one thing, but for Murphy, there was — and is — a long road to being a college quarterback. For the first steps in his re-launching, Murphy turned to the staff that was there for him in his previous highs.
"Once I decided, then my old offensive coordinator coach [Mark] Yoho was kind of helping me out," Murphy said. "A ton of the previous coaches I've had — coach Lanham, coach Hays, coach Harbert and coach Yoho have all been a great help to me so far.
"Coach Yoho, being an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, we got to go back on the field over the winter on some cold days and throw a little bit."
North Marion went 7-3 in the regular season in Murphy's senior campaign, the most wins the program had seen since 2001. That was the last time Marion County saw Murphy on the football field, where he completed 144 of 227 passes for 2,354 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Murphy also threw many a pass to one Tariq Miller, who just finished up his freshman year at Glenville State this past season. Miller came down over the winter to help Murphy with his training too, an old connection that might be reignited in the future.
"A lot of people have played a part in this process of me making it to the point I have so far," Murphy said. "Still trying to knock the rust off a little bit, but it's a bunch of people that have helped me out and moved me in the right direction."
As for the training itself, Murphy is fully immersed in the transition from shot-maker on the court to shot-caller in the huddle.
The physical demands made for a quicker transition, while the mental demands have been just that for the reborn QB — demanding.
"Your shoulder gets a little sore after the first couple days, but once you get back into the groove of it, it's not too harsh on you," Murphy said.
"The X's and O's, even though it's similar concepts to what we were doing in high school, it's all new terminology and different ways to read the defense," Murphy said. "There's a lot of memorizing and things that go into an offensive scheme."
The support didn't end with the coaching staff at North Marion. The entire community surrounding Murphy had not forgotten him and the impact he'd made by a long shot. Since making the leap, the North alum has seen an outpouring from the area.
"Everybody has just been so supportive of it as soon as they've heard," Murphy said. "I've gotten texts, if I'm in person and I tell somebody, they're like 'I'm so happy for you, I'm so proud of you.'
"I think the area I'm from, it's a great area to be from. So many great people, caring, loving people who'll have your back. They're the most supportive people in the world."
Murphy said he has two or three years of college eligibility left for his new dream. Murphy enters a Glenville State team that went 7-3 last year, with freshman Anthony Garrett throwing 205 passes for the Pioneers in six games, and junior Jeff Miller throwing 137 passes in six games. The pair combined for 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Murphy said the team is bonding right now, lifting as a team and partaking in team study halls every couple days. He's itching to get on the football field properly when spring ball starts for Glenville in early March.
"It's awesome, it's something new," Murphy said. "It's a whole new ballgame, but I enjoy it. It's exciting."
Reach Nick Henthorn at 304-367-2548, on Twitter @nfhenthorn_135 or by email at email@example.com.