GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- So now that the Tyler Murphy era is underway, I figured it’d be a good idea to get know a little more about Florida’s new starting quarterback than what’s in that 147-word bio in the UF media guide.
So I started by Googling Murphy’s hometown of Wethersfield, Conn., a small borough that buttresses the state capital of Hartford.
It’s not a big city -- with a population of just 26,668, according to the 2010 Census -- but every town is notable (if not famous) for something.
For example, in the 1600s three women were convicted of witchcraft and executed in Wethersfield. Good stuff.
In 1781, Gen. George Washington and French Gen. Jean-Baptiste Donatien deVimeur Comte de Rochambeau plotted what would become the Battle of Yorktown that led to the surrender of the British in the Revolutionary War. The site of that meeting is now a museum.
The horror novel “The Other” was written by Wethersfield homeboy Tom Tryon and set there, too.
And Wethersfield is also the “red onion capital of the world.”
[Irrelevant note: Regarding that last item, hey, somewhere has to be red onion capital of the world, right? I once spent two days in Gilroy, Calif., to do a massive story on Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia and his hometown. Gilroy is the “garlic capital of the world” (and smells like it in certain places)]
Go to the Wethersfield Wikipedia page and you can find a list of 18 “Notable people, past and present.” It includes:
* John Deming, an early Puritan settler and founder of the city.
* Tony DiCicco, who coached the USA women’s soccer national team from 1994-99, including the World Cup win best remembered for Brandi Chastain’s sports bra.
* Thomas Ian Griffith (pictured right), who played that two-faced martial arts instructor in “The Karate Kid, Part III.” I did not like him.
* Annabella Sciorra, of “Reversal of Fortune,” “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” and The Sopranos” fame.
* John Pinone, the only freshman in Villanova basketball history to lead the Wildcats in scoring (his ‘Nova jersey No. 45 is retired.
* Benjamin Wright, the chief engineer behind the construction of the Erie Canal.
Oh, and guess who is the last name on the list.
Tyler Murphy, starting quarterback for the University of Florida Gators
I chatted briefly with UF’s new QB on Monday to try and get a little more sense about Tyler Murphy, the person, as opposed to the guy trying to beat a single-high safety defense.
Below is some stuff I found interesting. And for more, look for a BIG-picture piece from my colleague Scott Carter later this week.
DID YOU KNOW?
> Peter Murphy, the quarterback’s father, was a walk-on basketball player at Providence College in 1982-83. That was the year before Friars icon and UF coach Billy Donovan showed up. Peter left the basketball team to play football for the Friars (the program has since disbanded), but apparently squared off against “Billy D” in some pickup games at Memorial Gym. Said Tyler: “He always talks about how he used to “D” up Billy Donovan. I’m like, ‘Dad, I’m sure he doesn’t even remember you.’ ” I went to see Billy D and asked him. “Maybe if a saw a picture of him,” he said.
> Murphy’s younger sister Morgan is a 5-foot-10 forward at Binghamton (N.Y.) University. As a freshman last season, she averaged 7 points per game and was named to the 2014 America East Conference All-Rookie team.
> On TV, he likes to watch “Burn Notice,” “First Take” and “Scandal.” Said Tyler: “I love ‘Breaking Bad’ too, but I’m a few episodes behind. I definitely have to find time to catch up.” Don’t worry, Gator fans, the only DVDs he’ll be nose-deep in this week will be Kentucky’s defense.
> On the big screen, Murphy is a big “Batman” guy and loves sports movies too. “Friday Night Lights” and “Glory Road” were two of his choices.
> Murphy’s first job was as a bus boy at Carbone’s, “A little Italian restaurant right down the street from our house,” he said.
> Murphy, despite his proximity to New York and Boston, doesn’t root for any pro teams, but rather locks in on players and pulls for their respective teams. He loves Drew Brees, Michael Vick, Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning. On the court, he’s a Kobe Bryant guy. On the diamond, he cheers for Derek Jeter.
> As far as memorable achievements as an athlete at Wethersfield High, Murphy (pictured left) recalled how he was forced into action when the starting quarterback got hurt and helped lead the team to a stunning win -- sound familiar? -- over local power Glastonbury. He also score six touchdown in a game (all on runs) and won the triple-jump at the Connecticut state track and field championships when he popped one of 46 feet, 7 inches. Murphy played three years on the basketball team, but claimed to be a hustle and defense guy more than a scorer.
> As for being the most famous football player from Wethersfield, “No, we had a guy way back who played against O.J. Simpson in the Rose Bowl,” he said. “I don’t remember his name.”
Well, there’s where Murphy and the what’s-his-name who chased O.J. differ.
In Hartford and all over the state of Florida, everybody knows Tyler Murphy’s name.
And everybody is talking about him this week.
[Check out his high school highlight tape below]