Murphy finally cleared to play for Alabama

Published 3:41 pm Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TUSCALOOSA — Nick Saban’s first Alabama commitment has finally been cleared to play.

Lineman Kerry Murphy, a highly regarded 2007 signee, received word Monday that the NCAA Clearinghouse had declared him academically eligible to play for the Crimson Tide.

Murphy quickly headed to campus to enroll.

“I almost hung up the phone, I was so happy,” Murphy told The Birmingham News in a story Tuesday. “It’s been such a long road, I didn’t even know what to say. I’ve been working so hard, and it finally paid off.”

Murphy didn’t qualify after becoming the first commitment Saban received after his hiring in January 2007. He missed qualifying again after spending a year at Hargrave Military Academy and re-signing with Alabama.

He stayed another semester at Hargrave and then boosted his grade point average to meet NCAA eligibility standards by taking classes at Cahaba School in Hoover.

Murphy’s mother, Rosetta, held down two jobs to afford it, giving Murphy the incentive he needed.

“Just seeing my mom working two jobs just to pay for these courses, I just knew I couldn’t fail, man,” Murphy said.

Rosetta Murphy gave credit to her son’s work ethic and the family’s faith.

“I feel just wonderful,” she said. “When the Lord is with you, the devil can’t do you no harm. We’ve been through so much to get Kerry to this point. He deserves it.”

Murphy played offensive tackle at Hargrave but defense is his preference.

“As long as I’m in there,” Murphy said, “I’ll just do whatever they tell me to do.”

Murphy’s work in the classroom at Hoover High School had drawn scrutiny. He was one of the students at the school who allegedly received preferential treatment, resulting in grade changes.

He was allowed to take one test three times until he passed. A teacher also raised a grade from a 79 to a 94 because the teacher realized he had not been following the education plan designed for Murphy because of sleep apnea.

Murphy said at the time he didn’t know anything about the situation going on around him. He said all that gave him more motivation to succeed after returning home from Hargrave.

“I grew up,” he said. “All the things I was going through, my family trying to help me, I knew I had to get my grades and make something out of myself. To heck with football, I needed to get a degree.”