Tyler Murphy gripped the podium Saturday night, taking center stage for a sea of reporters. The sound of clicking cameras filled Florida's media room. Sporting a shiny blue Gators collared shirt, a poised Murphy fielded questions, speaking softly into the microphone.
"I never really pictured standing here at the podium like this," he said.
No one did.
"Jeff's as tough a kid I've been around," Muschamp said. "When he looked to the sideline and waved, I knew it was not good."
Muschamp said Driskel would receive season-ending surgery on his lower-leg on Sunday. With the starter out and a game to be played, it was time for man down, man up.
Murphy was up.
Prior to Saturday, the redshirt junior had only appeared in three games for the Gators. The Connecticut native spent the 2012 season as UF's third QB, positioned behind Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. However, Murphy found a different way to help the Gators last year.
"He came to me and said, 'Coach, I want to work on the scout team,'" Muschamp recalled. "He came up to me last year and asked me to do that. There's not many guys like that in this society."
Murphy certainly rose when his name was called. By the end of the Tennessee game in Gainesville, "Tyler Murphy" was trending on Twitter. For good reason, too.
He was a key piece of the Gators' ninth straight victory against the Vols, posting a slew of highlights, including a career-long 52-yard pass, rushing 10 times for 84 yards and a TD. At the end of the third quarter, he even tallied a carer-long 28-yard rush which was the longest by a Gators QB since Driskel's versus FSU last year (31 yards).
"He's a guy that's really, really smart who did a fantastic job coming into the circumstances and performing well," Muschamp said. "I just thought he managed the game extremely well, and he made plays."
Murphy excelled in the pocket, scrambling well for the Gators. Though Muschamp said Murphy and Driskel are similar players, there are "some throws" Murphy likes to make that Driskel doesn't. Throwing game adjustments will be a key area of focus moving forward with Murphy as the new starter.
"It hasn't really hit me yet," Murphy said of his new role.
Murphy stems from Wethersfield, Conn., where he was on the track and football team for Wethersfield High. He finished his high school career with more than 30 touchdowns with 1,100 passing and 1,100 rushing and won the triple jump at the State Open Track Meet.
Murphy said he didn't have many offers out high school, though he was previously committed to Temple University. That all changed when he received a phone call from Florida after sending the program his film. Murphy received his offer from Urban Meyer and Steve Addazio.
Despite the fact Murphy dressed for all 13 games of his inaugural season with the Gators in 2010, he earned a redshirt. As the third-string quarterback, why not consider transferring? Murphy said getting his degree from the University of Florida was important to him (he's set to graduate with a B.S. in Telecommunications in December).
"I enjoy the school," Murphy said. "I have a lot of good friends here that I've become close with. I'm not really afraid of competition. I think competition makes you better. I wanted to stay here to get better and compete."
Now, Murphy will be able to focus on competing for Florida wins rather than for Florida reps.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.
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