Former Texas quarterback Maalik Murphy will make his way to Durham, North Carolina in 2024. The former backup to Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers aims to make an instant impact along with new Duke football head coach Manny Diaz.
Murphy was a four-star prospect (according to 247Sports) out of Gardena, California and committed to Texas in early 2022. Murphy spent the 2022 season behind Ewers and former Texas quarterback Hudson Card in the depth chart, so he didn't see the field that season. In 2023, the Longhorns signed five-star recruit quarterback Arch Manning and it seems as though Manning is the future of Texas football in 2025 (Ewers is returning in 2024).
Murphy did see the field in 2023, however, due to Ewers recovering from an injury. Murphy went 2-0 as a starter and played against BYU and the 2022 Big-12 champions, Kansas State. Against BYU, Murphy had a decent game where the Texas defense shined (gave up 4.4 yards per play). Murphy went 16/25 (64%) for 170 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception, respectively. In a highly contest affair against Kansas State, Murphy went 19/37 (51%) for 248 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, respectively. The Texas defense held strong against the Will Howard-led Wildcats to seal the victory in overtime.
The main purpose Murphy served during Ewers absence was to keep the Longhorns afloat until his return. Texas had already lost a thriller to rival the Oklahoma Sooners earlier in the season, so it was up to Murphy to hold Texas steady until Ewers returned and keep them in the College Football Playoff mix. Luckily for Murphy, Texas had a defense that ranked third in the nation in rushing defense (2.9 yards per rush) and seventh in red zone defense to help hold firm.
Texas finished the season having won the Big-12 championship (against Oklahoma State) and earned a berth in the final four-team College Football Playoff. The Longhorns did lose an exciting game against the Washington Huskies in the semi-final round and Ewers shortly after announced he would be returning for head coach Steve Sarkisian's team in 2024. Since Ewers will start in 2024 and Manning being touted as arguably the best high school prospect ever, Murphy had to make a difficult decision regarding this future.
Former Duke football starting quarterback Riley Leonard transferred to Notre Dame in late December after having spent three seasons with the Blue Devils ('21-'23). Leonard's best season came in 2022 when he completed 63.9 percent of his passes along with 2,967 yards, 20 passing touchdowns, and 13 rushing touchdowns, respectively. Leonard had established himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the country with his dual-threat play style. In 2023, Leonard led Duke to a 4-0 start before getting injured in a primetime game against Notre Dame ironically. The former Blue Devil played in only 7 games in 2023 but looks to improve his draft stock in South Bend next season.
What Maalik Murphy brings to Duke football
Murphy wanted to go to a program where he could be the de-facto starter and Duke football seems like the right fit for him. However, the Blue Devils do have pass throwers on their roster including redshirt freshman Henry Belin IV and Grayson Loftis. Belin IV started in one game for Duke Football against NC State. Leonard was out due to injury and Belin stepped in and tossed for two touchdowns on only four completions. Loftis started four games for Duke Football (3-2 as a starter) and tossed for 976 yards, eight touchdowns, and four interceptions (including a bowl game vs. Troy), respectively.
The former four-star recruit will likely be the starter for Duke Football in 2024 based on sheer talent and potential. Murphy stands at 6'4 235Ibs and will be hard to bring down whether in the pocket or using his legs to gain yardage. Murphy also has a strong arm, but his accuracy needs improvement which should come the more in-game experience he gains.
Diaz will be replacing former Duke and current Texas A&M head coach Mike Elko for Duke football in 2024. Elko went 16-9 along with two bowl game appearances in his two seasons with the Blue Devils ('22-'23), respectively. Diaz served as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for Penn State ('22-'23) and also served as the head coach for the Miami Hurricanes for three seasons ('19-'21). The former Miami head coach had a 21-15 record along with an 0-2 record in bowl games.
The 2024 season for Duke will look a lot different due to the departures of Leonard, Elko, and leading rusher Jordan Waters (transferred to NC State). Murphy still has three years of eligibility remaining, so he should have at least two full seasons under Diaz as Duke football aims to compete against ACC's elite teams (Florida State, Clemson, Louisville).