Saguaro football stud commits to University of Washington

Byron Murphy, a student at Saguaro High School, committed to play football at the University of Washington. (submitted photo)

Byron Murphy, a student at Saguaro High School, committed to play football at the University of Washington. (Photo by Bill Slane/Cronkite News)

As Chase Lucas rode the 19 miles from Chandler High School to Saguaro High School Thursday afternoon, he received a call from his future college coach.

Lucas was on his way to watch his friend, Arizona’s top recruit Byron Murphy from Scottsdale’s Saguaro High School, announce his college decision. Many believed Murphy, who played both cornerback and wide receiver in high school, would join Lucas and close friend N’Keal Harry at Arizona State, but ASU coach Todd Graham had other feelings.

“He was like, ‘Man you gotta get in his ear, I think he’s coming over to (Washington),’” Lucas said of his call from Coach Graham.

When Murphy, expected to play defensive back at the collegiate level, took the podium at Saguaro and thanked his family, coaches and friends, few thought he would be wearing anything but maroon and gold. When he announced he would attend the University of Washington and pulled out his purple Husky baseball hat, those beliefs – and hopes of Sun Devil fans – were shockingly dashed.

“It definitely came down to where I felt more comfortable and the coaching staff,” Murphy said. “It came to where I just felt more comfortable in the locker room.”

So for the second straight year, ASU failed to close the deal at the buzzer on the state’s top recruit.

A year ago, the Sun Devils appeared to have wide receiver Christian Kirk, also of Saguaro, locked up based on reports from top recruiting websites, Landing Kirk would have been a major boost to Graham’s recruiting class. In the end, Kirk was stolen out of the state by Texas A&M in the final few hours before his final decision.

Murphy told media after his announcement he hadn’t come to a final decision until Thursday morning after a final talk with his stepfather. It was then he chose Washington over Arizona State.

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(Photo by Bill Slane/Cronkite News)

“It was the hardest decision for me because my best friends went there,” Murphy said.

Murphy’s friends, Lucas and Harry, made their commitments to ASU in 2015. Harry and Lucas are the consensus Nos. 2 and 3 recruits in Arizona and Harry was recently named the top receiver recruit in the nation by Rivals. Many assumed all three would end up playing for the same college based on their close friendship. In the end, that didn’t happen.

“Just telling them I wasn’t going there was a hard thing for me.” Murphy said. “I just have to keep pushing and look out for what’s best for me.”

Lucas made it in time for his friend’s announcement, sporting his Sun Devil baseball hat as his friend chose to play for a team the Sun Devils meet Nov. 19 next season.

“It really is hard, just to see my twin, my brother that I’ve been grinding with the past couple of months, just leave,” Lucas said. “I have great faith in him and I want to see the big things that he’s going to do in Seattle.”

Harry was not able to attend Lucas’ announcement because of basketball practice. But Lucas said there won’t be any animosity between the two and Murphy when they play each other in the coming years. “Can’t wait to play him,” Lucas said.

“No trashing talking, maybe some words will be spoken just to get a head start at each other,” he said. “I’ve got so much love for that man, it’s ridiculous. He’ll always be a family member to me whether he’s a Husky or a Sun Devil.”

Lucas also received a call from Graham shortly after the press conference ended.

Saguaro football coach Jason Mohns, an ASU alumnus whose father coached under the legendary Frank Kush, was a little shocked by his player’s decision.

“At the end of the day, if every one of my kids went to ASU that would be great, but in my position you have to take a step back,” he said. “In this whole thing I just try to help everybody see the big picture, point out the pros and cons of each school and really help them make their own decision.”

Coach Mohns doesn’t believe ASU’s performance this season had anything to do with the school losing the top recruit again. For him, it’s a matter of players going where they feel most comfortable.

“You saw D.J. Foster (go) ASU, Christian (Kirk) goes to (Texas) A&M and now Byron’s going to Washington. There’s just something that fits each individual differently because they’re not all the same,” he said.

Editor's Note: Mr. Slane is a student reporter with the Cronkite News at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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