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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Murph leads Butler County to national title

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Brian Murph
EL DORADO, Kan. -- Former New Madrid County Central football standout Brian Murph recently helped the Butler County Grizzlies win the 2003 Junior College National Championship.

Butler County, located in El Dorado, Kan., defeated Dixie State 45-38 in the title game on Dec. 6 in St. George, Utah. Murph had four catches for 101 yards in that game, with a long of 42.

With the victory, Butler County finished the season with a record of 11-0.

"It's a good feeling," said Murph. "Our goal was to win it all and win the national championship. Beating Dixie made it even better, because they knocked us out last year. It was a nice way to end the year."

The 6-foot-1, 175 pound redshirt freshman sat out three games in the middle of the season with a shoulder injury. He played eight games overall, finishing with 225 yards receiving on 14 catches. He also ran the ball twice for 14 yards.

"He had a real good year," said Butler head coach Chad Morrell, who was named NJCAA Coach of the Year. "He made a lot of big plays in critical situations for us. His best attributes are his overall athleticism, his size and his ability to go after the football when it's in the air."

Murph's future is up in the air. Since he redshirted last year, he can play one more year at Butler or he can transfer to a Division I school.

He has recruiting visits set up in January for East Carolina and Brigham Young University.

"I've got a whole lot of offers, but I really don't know what I want to do just yet," said Murph. "I can either stay here or I can move on and play for a Division I school. The recruiting is just starting to come on heavy right now."

His coach feels Murph has the potential to succeed at the next level.

"He's a Division I football player, there's no question about that," said Morrell. "I think there will be some more big time programs coming through here after the new year."

Butler County produces Division I athletes every year and has several alumni in the NFL. The most recent example is Rudi Johnson of the Cincinnati Bengals, who played for Butler before transferring to Auburn.

Murph graduated NMCC in 2002. He played quarterback as a senior, leading the Eagles to the Class 3 championship game. He threw for 1,238 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for 714 yards with 10 TDs.

"Our team here was kind of like my team at Central," said Murph. "We all hang out together and will do just about anything for each other. But life here is a lot different, a whole lot different."

Another former NMCC football standout also had a banner junior college season in Kansas.

Ricky Smith was the running back for Fort Smith Community College, leading the Greyhounds to a 3-6 record.

The 6-foot-2, 225 pound sophomore ran for 675 yards on 108 carries, scoring six touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 24 yards and led the team in scoring with 36 points. He was named second team All-Conference in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference.

Smith graduated NMCC in 2000. As a senior, he rushed for 1,782 yards on 204 carries, scoring 33 touchdowns.

Fort Scott alumni include Mel Gray, former Colorado all-american Chris Brown and Kansas quarterback Bill Whittemore.