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Murphy lives out dream as Irish walk-on

| Friday, November 9, 2018

Irish senior linebacker Kier Murphy’s Notre Dame experience has been defined by working hard and working humbly. The walk-on said his journey to Notre Dame was a path that seemed almost destined for him to pursue.

“[I] grew up in Rock Island, Illinois, went to a small Catholic school … so growing up in that environment everyone’s at least a little bit of a Notre Dame fan,” Murphy said. “On top of that, my family were big Notre Dame fans — my dad went here, and before him my grandparents were always pushing Notre Dame. Grew up a pretty big Notre Dame fan, I had some looks to go play at some smaller, FCS Division 1 schools, but ultimately I came in and said, ‘I wanna play here.’ Eventually it worked out and I got the opportunity to come walk on, and I think it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Ann Curtis | The Observer
Irish senior linebacker Kier Murphy warms up before Notre Dame’s 38-17 victory over Stanford on Sept. 29.

While being a walk-on is a dream come true for Murphy, it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Consistently finding the motivation to be great day-in and day-out is a lot for any player, let alone for a guy who knows he’s not going to see much playing time. Yet, for the senior linebacker, it’s all worth it in the end.

“A lot of it has to do with just being a humble worker,” Murphy said. “I think all the guys here will tell you that. Coming to work every day just like everybody else, but not necessarily with the light at the end of the tunnel and being able to get a bunch of playing time. That comes with its ups and downs, but ultimately being able to walk through these doors after four years and being able to say you did it is something so honorable and noble to hang your hat on and say that you stuck with the best team in the country for four years. You can move on knowing that you’re a better man, and teammate and person for it.”

Part of what Murphy says helps him grow as a person and teammate are the people he’s surrounded by every day, especially the linebacker corps and coaches.

“It’s awesome, we’re all pretty tight,” Murphy said. “I think it’s been really cool — because a lot of the guys now in the forefront of the defense are in my class or right around there — just seeing everybody come up through the ranks and develop not only as players, but as teammates. I think our coaching staff, in particular [defensive coordinator] Coach [Clark] Lea, is just an awesome crew of guys that not only have fun, but keep each other accountable.”

That development of personal accountability and responsibility are what Murphy says has shaped him the most during his time at Notre Dame, and are lessons he will take with him wherever he goes in life after football.

“[Director of Football Performance] Coach [Matt] Balis and Coach Lea both touch on [humility] a lot, about being able to wake up every day and be the same guy,” he said. “If you’re tired, or you have to leave family at home or other things people want you to do, you still have to come in and get the work done no matter the circumstance. That discipline and work ethic you have to learn through a sport like this and the accountability and responsibility to not only yourself, but your teammates — it’s important, and it carries on for the rest of your life.”

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About Joe Everett

Joe is a senior PLS major and hails from the thriving metropolis of South Bend, IN. In addition to formerly serving as Sports Editor at The Observer, Joe is a RA in Stanford Hall and a past champion of the Observer's Fantasy Football league.

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