Good luck catching Caleb Murphy off-guard. When it comes to making quick adjustments, the Colleyville Heritage senior football player is something of a master.
Murphy is playing his fifth position since joining the Panthers varsity in 2015. Now a starting running back — and still manning his starting cornerback spot from last season — he’s already comfortable with the switch.
“I’ve played every single skill position, but my favorite positions really are cornerback and running back,” he said with a laugh. “I’m really very comfortable playing where I am now.”
And, with the departure of NCAA Division I recruit Marcus Mosley to Brownwood, things have hardly slowed down for Murphy.
But then, he’s never had a problem adjusting. As a sophomore, he played outside linebacker and quarterback. Last season he moved to safety and cornerback, along with seeing a little time at quarterback.
In fact, the lone pass he has thrown as a varsity quarterback went for a 22-yard touchdown last season.
“We were in the wildcat formation and we sent Kameron [Brown] in motion. I saw the cornerback was going with him, so I threw it to Jacob Guerrero,” Murphy said. “It was exciting, especially because I’m more of a runner. Not sure if I’ll get the chance again, but that sure was a thrill.”
Murphy is thrilling Panthers fans with his feet this season. Through the first three games of the season he led the team in rushing (36 carries, 186 yards), averaging over five yards per carry, along with scoring two touchdowns.
He is still a presence on defense and has a sack this year. It’s not common for players at larger schools (Heritage is Class 5A) to play on both offense and defense, but it’s something Murphy welcomes.
“It gets really tiring playing both ways,” he said, adding that at least he gets a break from returning kicks this season, something else he’s done in the past.
“Caleb is a remarkable player who has the ability to contribute on both sides of the ball. His skill set is rare, and his unselfishness allows us to put him on the field where and when we need him,” Panthers head coach Joe Willis said.
“I have been very impressed with his contributions at running back while holding down a starting corner position.”
Raised by a single mother who still plays adult soccer herself, and with a sister who was also a standout in soccer, he grew up with constant encouragement and challenges at home — which he welcomed.
“My sister is fast. I couldn’t outrun her until seventh grade,” he said. “The way my mom treats me is how I’m going to treat my kids. I don’t think she missed a single game while I was growing up.
“My mom tore her ACL in high school, but I have no doubt she could have played college soccer. She’s my biggest fan, but she’ll also be hard on me when it’s time.”
Murphy is hoping his mom will be able to come see him play in college. He’s been approached by several schools, including Rice, SMU and Stephen F. Austin.
“He is exactly the kind of player that we need him to be and is highly recruitable because of his versatility,” Willis said. “Any player who can start both ways at the 5A level is special, and Caleb is a big part of our plans.”