Thorn Murphy is just like any other Butler University student.
He is a junior finance major from Columbus, Ind., with a 3.9 GPA.
However, his junior year is taking a lot of getting used to.
Murphy was a football player for Butler his first two years and received a lot of playing time at strong safety.
Four concussions later, Murphy can’t do anything but stand on the sidelines and support his teammates in games and in practice.
When the team doctors advised Murphy to stop playing, he had no choice but to listen and take care of his health.
Interestingly enough, all four concussions came during games while playing special teams.
“[That] is common because people are running full speed and hitting one another,” Murphy said. “I got my concussions by leading with my head.
“When you are in high school, you can get away with it because you’re big compared to a lot of people. In college, people are a lot bigger, stronger and faster.”
Murphy came to Butler for the same reason as many: he knew it was a great school.
In addition to the academic atmosphere, he was able to play football and make an immediate impact on the team.
He did just that, appearing in all 11 games his freshman year with 15 tackles, a forced fumble and a blocked kick.
In his sophomore year he missed three of the team’s 11 games due to his concussions, but improved on his tackle total and had an interception with an eight-yard return.
As a solid contributor for the Bulldogs, his loss is tough on the team, but keeping him on staff as a student assistant was important in keeping his motivational locker room presence.
Although his career-halting injuries proved a huge loss for the team, they were an even bigger loss in Murphy’s life.
“It was devastating,” Murphy said. “All of my life I have played football.
“In high school it was what I did besides school, which in high school didn’t really require much, so it being taken away from me was a really hard experience.—[It has been] one of the hardest of my life so far, which to be honest I feel lucky.”
The transition to college football, and now into coaching, has been made easier since his parents put him on his older brother’s tackle team when he was in kindergarten.
Starting so young makes him a more credible source to stand on the sidelines everyday.
“I help with the flow of practice and coach the scout team players to give the starting team a good look for game day,” Murphy said, as he explained his roles as a student assistant.
Murphy said not playing at all is really hard for him.
“I always think that to get two years of college football and a great amount of playing time during those two years is very good,” he said. “Not many people who play four years can always say they saw the field solidly for two years. “So I feel lucky about it.”
Murphy already has seen the field for two years, but now he is seeing it in a different light.
“To be honest, it is not nearly as fun as playing,” he said. “I mean, it is nowhere close to playing. The main reason I stayed on to help was because the players on the team are my best friends.”
The feeling of being on a competitive team is unlike many other feelings, and Murphy embodies the essence of a teammate in every sense of the word.
“The feeling of winning with your teammates after all we have been through, to know that it was all worth it, is what I miss the most about playing,” Murphy said. ”The friends you gain from football or any other sport, I feel that is where you gain your best friends. You know how they handle adversity and you get a true sense of who that person is, but they always have your back.“
Murphy’s favorite part of his new role on the team is helping the freshmen to adapt to their new surroundings and coaching them into becoming better players.
Murphy’s life has changed a lot in the last year, but he believes that everything happens for a reason.
Maybe not playing football is what is supposed to happen for him, he said.
He holds a strong belief that there are great things to come in his life.
“I felt like when the doctor told me I couldn’t play it was God’s way of telling me to strive for something else.”