Will Murphy was in a shuttle van heading to the airport, uncertain of what was next in life.
A few hours earlier, the West Albany alum had finished his three-day tryout with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and was heading home.
Murphy had his bachelor’s degree, was taking one last class to finish a minor and would soon be venturing out into the real world.
Then his cell phone rang. On the other end was Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, also Murphy’s coach when both were at Oregon.
“Don’t worry about catching your flight because you made the roster” were the words Murphy surprisingly heard.
“That was a big shock,” Murphy said Monday after finishing up his fifth practice as a member of the team’s 90-player roster.
“I was finally done with football. I had given up and was ready to move on to the next thing.”
The turn of events has included Murphy signing a contract and likely to be on the roster at least through the week of the first preseason game in early August.
Murphy, who turned 23 last week, walked on at Oregon in the fall of 2008 after initially planning to play at Western Oregon with good friend Scot Foss, also a West graduate.
At Oregon, where his brother Andrew was a former football walk-on and his dad Mark played baseball, Murphy discovered the place he wanted to be all along.
He said it took until his second or third year with the Ducks for him to understand what it meant to be a good practice player, thus earning playing time.
It wasn’t about taking your reps then standing on the sideline and “having a good time” with your buddies.
Instead, it was watching the signals being called in and the guy ahead of you on the depth chart, as well as everything else going on.
Once Murphy learned that, his collegiate career “took off.”
He worked his way from a steady special-teams contributor who made his way onto the traveling squad to a part-time starter who garnered consistent playing time at receiver during his senior season in 2012.
He contributed to the Ducks making four straight BCS games, including wins in the Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl the past two seasons.
Now Murphy feels as though he’s that walk-on once more, starting all over again.
And living a bit of a dream at the same time, practicing with NFL players.
“When you’re catching balls from Mike Vick it’s pretty wild,” Murphy said.
He was one of three players asked to stay following the Eagles’ three-day rookie mini-camp, joining defensive end Daryell Walker, from Hampton University, and offensive tackle Nic Purcell, a New Zealand native who played at Golden West Community College in California.
Philadelphia is practicing fast and efficiently, just as Kelly did with his teams at Oregon.
Murphy says LeSean McCoy, the Eagles’ star running back, asked him whether Kelly always likes to practice so quickly.
When Murphy told him they went even faster at Oregon, McCoy couldn’t fathom it.
“Guys are really buying into it. They’re enjoying the offense,” Murphy said.
The Eagles will complete their OTAs, or organized team activities, on June 20. Players will then have about a month off before returning to Philadelphia for training camp.
Murphy completed his degree in sociology after winter term this past March.
After returning home in June, he plans to re-enroll in that UO business economics class had to withdraw from and complete it online.
He’ll also turn to Oregon strength and conditioning guru Jim Radcliffe for some guidance.
Murphy’s biggest goal is to get himself noticed on special teams, just as he did with the Ducks.
He figures that gives him the best shot at staying as long as he can and possibly be on the Eagles’ roster when the regular season opens Sept. 9 at Washington.
“Anything can happen,” Murphy said.