From Sabercat to Cardinal: CB Byron Murphy destined to wear red No. 7
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.
2015: Cardinals High School Player of the Year from Saguaro HS. Receives nice red #7 Cards jersey from Michael Bidwill
2021: NFC Defensive Player of Week after 2 INTs/1 Pick 6 at Jax wearing nice red #7 Cards jersey
2015+2021 are last 2 times Cards started 3-0 pic.twitter.com/ThRjE3Ysc4
— Mark Dalton (@CardsMarkD) September 29, 2021
“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.”