Terps tight end Murphy taken by Lions in 7th round

Pick grew up near Detroit before he joined Maryland

April 22, 2002|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

For those still not selected by the final round of the NFL draft, tension is mixed with the weighing of options available for players looking for invitations to minicamps as free agents.

This was the case yesterday with Maryland tight end Matt Murphy, who received calls from five teams about free-agent deals before the Detroit Lions took him in the seventh round with the 252nd pick, 10 spots from the end of the draft.

Murphy said he got a call from a Lions player personnel executive who said: "You don't have to worry about being a free agent anymore - we just drafted you."

It was happy news for Murphy, a 6-foot-5, 253-pound player who caught 12 passes for 137 yards last season. He has an opportunity because Detroit's starting tight end in 2001, David Sloan, now plays for New Orleans.

Plus, he grew up in the Detroit suburbs before coming to Maryland five years ago, making minicamp a homecoming if nothing else.

"A lot of my family wanted me to come around home," Murphy said. "So it's pretty cool. I only live about 15 minutes from the [Lions' training] complex."

Detroit had called him about coming to its camp as a free agent, just as Green Bay, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Philadelphia had.

While Murphy's combination of size and speed were pluses, he was not a big part of the Maryland offense even in his best season, which was last year. So he was not invited to the NFL's scouting combine or to any all-star games.

"It seemed like no one knew about me, but luckily someone did," he said.

Terps quarterback Shaun Hill, meanwhile, signed a free-agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings last night, and Maryland cornerback Tony Okanlawon could sign a free-agent deal elsewhere this week.

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