Maalik Murphy is one of the top junior quarterback recruits in the country, but he is projecting excitement for the front-end of the equation these days.
The Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra standout finally has a season to prepare for after watching dozens of states get through a full high school football season in 2020.
California was one of 17 states to push the high school football season to the spring months. It has since seen contention points on a start date but just recently came to the decision to begin play in March. It will be a condensed, five-game schedule, but like many in his position after watching many others play -- Murphy will take it.
"I'm in school, waiting for practice to come, that's the highlight of my day," he told SI All-American Wednesday. "Just being able to go out there with my team and practice...it's unbelievable. It's more than exciting.
"I've been waiting so long, over a year in this offseason, working with my team and on myself. It's just long overdue, getting the chance to play. But now that it's here...it's a great feeling."
The spring season figures to feature plenty of firsts for Murphy, a towering 6-foot-5, 225-pound prospect. He saw partial duty as a sophomore, the last time Serra had a varsity team suit up, behind current UNLV quarterback Doug Brumfield.
Getting to his first campaign as the clear-cut 'guy' for Serra High has featured plenty of build up. The lack of experience hasn't hurt the junior's recruitment one bit, however. More than 30 college football programs have offered him a scholarship to be the future face of the program.
Penn State and Texas A&M were added to the list in recent weeks, as was national champion coordinator Steve Sarkisian and Texas. The new staff in Austin confirmed the previous staff's tender to the physically imposing Californian of late. Oregon, UCLA, Michigan, Rutgers and many others have also been involved.
"Everything is going in my favor," he said. "I'm looking all of the options that I have. I really hope to make the best choice for myself. I'm not gonna make a choice based off of what everybody else wants me to do, like outsiders. I'm gonna narrow it down to what's best for me and what my family feels is the best for me because at the end of the day I'm gonna be the one at the school, playing ball and living there."
There is no top group edit or a public list of programs Murphy may be considering most. The recruiting rarity, and the decision to keep the evaluating private, comes by design.
"I never wanted to cut anyone out," he said. "I wanted to keep my eyes open for everybody. I want to talk to as many coaches as I can, to get a good feel on everyone."
Earlier this week multiple reports suggested an impending closer look at Texas football set for Monday. It may eventually be the case but is far from a certainty as of Wednesday afternoon.
"I don't know for sure yet if I'm going to go out there on the 15th," Murphy said. "My quarterback coach is thinking about going out there to train with some guys from out there. If I'm able to join, and go with him out there, that would be a great experience. But if not, I'll be stable here at home. It's not a for sure thing.
"I do like Texas a lot. Texas fans are probably the craziest fans (laughing) that I've dealt with. They are the most tapped-in on my Twitter feed. As a regular person, you come to my Twitter and see so much Texas, you're gonna think Texas. That's just what's gonna happen."
The top junior does admit he could come to a verbal commitment sooner rather than later, but also that he may hold off. No true timeline exists for a final decision but he feels like he has navigated the decision-making process well despite the uncertainty of the recruiting calendar and his own prep campaign.
Additional visits aren't out of the question, either. In fact, one of the programs he is in communication with most is located across the country.
"Out of all the schools I talk to, it would honestly be Rutgers that I would have to visit...it's in New Jersey so it would be the only school I would absolutely have to visit before going just because I know nothing about the state at all," he said. "I have nobody who lives out there...I don't know too much about New York and New Jersey.
"It would be hard to go there without seeing everything, the atmosphere and my surroundings."
Murphy estimates 'five to six' college football coaching staffs he is in communication with most these days. Most haven't been pressing for a commitment or even a decision timeline, he says, especially given the recent news of the 2021 season on deck.
Serra High, which went 6-5 in 2019, kicks off the campaign on March 12 according to Murphy. The build up to that date is his primary focus.
"Even if it's five games, not a regular length season, I want people to know my love for the game and how excited I am about just getting a sniff of my junior year," he said. "It's ridiculous, I'm so ready to play. It's been a crazy time with everything going on but I've never given up, got side-tracked. I kept my main goal in front of my head and just kept working...getting stronger, getting faster, getting smarter.
"All of these things play a part in my development and I'm just ready to showcase it for myself and get on the field and do what I do best."
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