From Sabercat to Cardinal: CB Byron Murphy destined to wear red No. 7

Sep 29, 2021, 2:43 PM
Byron Murphy being honored as Cardinals High School Player of the Year alongside owner Michael Bidw...
Byron Murphy being honored as Cardinals High School Player of the Year alongside owner Michael Bidwill in 2015. (Twitter Photo/@CardsMarkD)
(Twitter Photo/@CardsMarkD)

TEMPE — Before he ever knew he would don a Cardinals jersey, or make it to the NFL for that matter, cornerback Byron Murphy was already on the team’s radar.

Being a standout athlete in the team’s backyard will have that effect.

Murphy’s play was another level during his senior year at Saguaro High School, so much so that he was named Cardinals High School Player of the Year. He was honored with a No. 7 Cardinals jersey from none other than owner Michael Bidwill during an Arizona game back in 2015.

Now, five years later, Murphy is being recognized for his efforts at the NFL level wearing that same red No. 7, taking home NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors thanks to a two-interception performance in the Cardinals’ 31-19 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3.

It’s the first time in franchise history that a player has won both the Cardinals’ yearly high school and NFC Player of the Week honors.

“The first thing I remember was when he gave me the jersey at halftime of the Cardinals game, he gave me a No. 7 jersey,” Murphy said after practice Wednesday. “I still have it to this day.

“I was like, ‘Man, if I ever get drafted to the Cardinals, I wanna wear No. 7. It’s crazy how everything happened like that.”

It’s even more special to do it alongside former high school teammate and Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk, who made his way to the Cardinals a year before Murphy.

“It’s something that I never take for granted,” Kirk said Tuesday, “I’m so happy and so proud of Byron and seeing how far he’s come. I remember the first day he showed up at Saguaro. [Head coach] Jason Mohns brought him to the weight room, brought him over to my rack that I was working out at and said, ‘This is your guy, this is your project for the next year. Wherever you go, whatever you do, he does. You make sure you don’t take an eye off of him.’

“That was my littler brother from that day on and just made sure to do everything that I could to help him along the way. He’s done that, if not more, on his own.”

The duo has come on strong this season, with Murphy the only defensive back in the league with five passes defensed (leads NFL) and two interceptions.

Meanwhile, Kirk is posting one of the top receiving grades handed out by Pro Football Focus (90.5) through three weeks of NFL action. The wideout only trails the Green Bay Packers’ Davante Adams (90.7) in that category.

“To have C-Kirk with me, it’s a blessing because I went to high school with him,” Murphy said. “I transferred and that was someone who I looked up to like a big brother.

“When I got there at Saguaro my junior year, he’s someone that just brought me in and showed me the ropes of the program and all those little things on the football field, off the football field.”

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) kneels after the Green Bay Packers intercepted...
Arizona Sports

Cardinals-Bears injury report: Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins game-day decisions

Arizona offensive lineman Justin Pugh missed a second straight day of practice Thursday with a lingering calf injury.
13 hours ago
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals look on during the second h...
Tyler Drake

Kyler Murray, Isaiah Simmons not taking the Kingsbury-to-Oklahoma bait

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray isn't putting too much stock into the report that Oklahoma is targeting Kliff Kingsbury as its next head coach.
3 days ago
Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins returns to the practice field Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, in Temp...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins, QB Kyler Murray easing back in practice

The Cardinals saw one of their biggest pieces offensively in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins make his return to the practice field on Wednesday.
3 days ago
Arizona Cardinals defensive end Zach Allen (94) celebrates his sack against the San Francisco 49ers...
Tyler Drake

Back at it: Kliff Kingsbury, Cardinals use bye week to their advantage

While the time away from the football field is needed for any team, there's a fine line between refueling and getting complacent.
4 days ago
Arizona Cardinals RB Jonathan Ward runs through a drill during training camp Thursday, July 29, 202...
Jake Anderson

Arizona Cardinals place RB Jonathan Ward on Reserve/COVID-19 list

The Arizona Cardinals placed RB Jonathan Ward on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. He has not played since Oct. 28 due to a concussion.
4 days ago
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields warms up before an NFL football game against the Baltimore ...
Tyler Drake

The final countdown: A look at the Cardinals’ remaining matchups in 2021

With the bye done and over with, it's time for the Arizona Cardinals to reengage for a final playoff push to end the season.
4 days ago
From Sabercat to Cardinal: CB Byron Murphy destined to wear red No. 7