With the score knotted at 24-all, with nine minutes and 41 seconds remaining in the game, and Clemson football players staring in his direction, Syracuse kicker and Valencia alum Cole Murphy was calm.
“I knew I was going to make it,” Murphy told The Signal. “And as a kicker … You always have to have that confidence to go in and say, I’m going to make it. Every kick is exactly the same.”
From 30 yards out, Murphy sent the ball sailing through the uprights, scoring the field goal that led to the 27-24 upset of the No. 2 Tigers.
“The second it happened I was just amped,” said Murphy. “Sheer adrenaline.”
Murphy, who was a goalkeeper in addition to playing football for the Vikings, currently is the No. 1 kicker in the Atlantic Coast Conference, with 12 field goals made on 14 attempts this season. He’s also made 22 of 23 extra points.
On top of that, the senior is the third-leading scorer in the ACC with a total of 58 points. The two players ahead of him at 60 points are Jaylen Samuels, a tight end for NC State, and Lamar Jackson, quarterback for Louisville.
While his leg is a key part to the Orange’s success, Valencia football special teams coach Brian Malette said that Murphy has, and has always had, a team-first mentality.
“He always wanted to be around the team,” Malette, who talks to Murphy on a weekly basis, recalled.
“Kickers are usually off by themselves, but all the team guys really respected him. He enjoyed kicking because he didn’t see it as an individual thing, he saw it as a team, like a unit going out in the field.”
Murphy’s longest field goal to date is 65 yards, a kick that was executed at practice off of sticks. In a game, his record is 51 yards.
But in high school, his max was 50-yards. Just three yards shy of Malette’s record of 53.
“We would always joke because his leg was so big, but it just never, the opportunity never came about and the closest we got was 50 yards and I’d always remind him,” Malette said. “Like whisper in his ear, ‘three more yards.’”
Murphy is hoping for a career in the National Football League, or a future as a specialist coach. Until then, he’ll continue evolving as a kicker and building on the changes he’s already made since arriving on the college scene.
Instead of listening to fast-paced, exciting music like he did in high school, he’s switched to a mellower soundtrack. He’s changed his warm-up approach from kicking into the net to stretching his hamstrings and quads when the time for him to take the field nears.
It’s all in an effort to fine-tune the mental aspect that plays such an integral part of his duties.
“If you don’t think you can make it, you’re not going to make it,” Murphy said. “So you’ve got to say mentally solid. Believe in your technique and just stay positive.”