Former Lakewood High and Gators WR Always Dreamt of Playing for the Buccaneers
He inked a deal with the team nearly three months ago, but it wasn’t until recently, after seeing a certain former head coach at practice that made Louis Murphy realize he was living his childhood dream — playing wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And the coach? It was Tony Dungy, the very man who transformed Murphy’s hometown team from a league-wide laughingstock to a championship contender.
“Watching him as a kid, with the whole team, from Warrick Dunn to Mike Alstott to Keyshawn Johnson to Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Simeon Rice, then to see Tony Dungy, who was the head of all that, Derrick Brooks, Shelton Quarles, man, just being a fan and being from here, it was just kind of surreal,” Murphy recalled.
“I had to go over there and introduce myself. And he told me he knew me! I was like, ‘What?!’ It was cool. It was cool to finally meet him.”
Of course, he’ll have to get used to Dungy’s presence at practices. He has a home here in Tampa and head coach Lovie Smith said he’s welcome at One Buc Place any time, no invitation necessary.
That’s fine by Murphy, whose NFL journey has taken him to four different teams in six seasons. He’s hoping he can stick here in Tampa Bay, and figures to have a legitimate shot as the third wide receiver. In that role, he’d primarily line up in the slot, although with injuries to Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans during the team’s mandatory minicamp, Murphy spent time lining up on the outside too.
“Especially with Vincent going down and Mike going down, I’ve been able to learn all three positions — X, Z and R. I’m just trying to soak it all up and learn everything, all the plays I can so when my number’s called, I’ll be ready to go.”
He’s hoping that he can give the offense a different dimension, supplementing two massive receivers with huge catch radiuses and leaping ability with his own quickness and sure-handedness, something he showed throughout camp.
“I feel I bring a vertical stretch. That’s what I’ve been known for throughout my career — catching the deep ball and just being able to know all the positions, play inside, play outside, and stretch the field. Wherever they put me at, I think I’ll be able to do well at.”
It helps having 4.32 speed, which helped clinch a state title for Lakewood High School’s 4×100 relay team, back when Murphy was a sophomore. He ran the anchor leg. Of course, that was back when he dreamt of becoming the next Keyshawn Johnson, and playing like Joe Jurevicius and Keenan McCardell.
Now he gets to run out of the same tunnel.
“It’s a dream come true. Growing up in St. Pete, being a Bucs fan my entire life, and being able to come here, and having the opportunity to play here and finish my career here, there’s no better opportunity in my eyes and I just than God every day for that.”
“I can’t explain it, just being from here and growing up a Bucs fan, just how blessed and how thankful I am.”