'God's Child' to shine on returns

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:01 PM ET

Calgary Stampeders fans will have to relax if they see Deon Murphy fidgeting while a punt is in the air.

As a ritual, Murphy will first touch his right bicep with his left hand, then his left one with the right.

Written on those arms in Chinese are ‘strength in oneself’ on the right and ‘God’s child’ on the left, so the 24-year-old touches the tattoos for good luck.

“You will see me doing it a lot,” said Murphy, who is the designated kick returner this season. “It’s something I believe in. I have strength in myself because I’m only 5-foot-10, 180 (lb.). A lot of people overlook me.

“I’m God’s child, so He will protect me everywhere I go.

“It’s worked out so far.”

Murphy joined the Stamps last fall straight out of Kansas State, where he finished third in all-time punt-return yardage behind former Stampeders return man David Allen and ex-B.C. Lions special-teams guy Aaron Lockett.

The Houston native quickly impressed the Stampeders brass with his explosiveness, and he came into this year’s training camp with his sights on the return job, which also would mean he could get inserted on offence occasionally.

New special-teams coach Mark Kilam is excited to have an import returner (which the Stamps haven’t used since Allen left in 2006).

Over the past three seasons, Canadian Markus Howell was the punt returner. It helped the veteran knew the unique CFL return rules.

“Deon’s really grown in his mental game,” Kilam said. “He has a better understanding of the kicking game in the CFL. To be a successful returner, you must have that in this league. You need to know when to bring it out and when to give up the single. So far, he’s done all the right things to win the job.”

Murphy won the spot over the likes of Ronald Keels and Jonathan Lowe, although he didn’t star in a pre-season game.

In the opener against the Edmonton Eskimos, Murphy had 12 yards on three punt returns. Against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, he had one punt return for three yards and one kickoff for 23 yards.

But the Stamps felt the opportunities weren’t there during games and had seen enough of his talents in practice. The fact Murphy turned on the jets for receptions of

75 and 48 yards in preseason action didn’t hurt either.

“It progressed from being here last year,” Murphy said. “They felt I knew the system, and I feel I could be really successful at it.

“The coaching staff feels the same way. There’s a reason I’m back there, and I’m going to make the most of it while I’m out there.”

Although Murphy is only one semester away from finishing a degree in mass communication (he plans on doing it this winter), he said his post-football future is in acting.

Right now, he’s putting his outgoing personality on display with the Stamps.

“I will go into movies or TV shows, anything they want to put me in,” Murphy said. “The camera is like your girlfriend — you have to make love to it.”

As a rookie, Murphy is careful not to step out of his place.

“Certain things about being a rookie mean you are getting challenged. We have a lot of rookies who are quiet, but I like to crack jokes. That’s just me.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos