He was once considered a troublemaker, a brawling, destructive youngster--the type that often becomes a burden to society.
Today the only trouble he causes is on the football field.
Trevor Murphy, 19, is a freshman at Glendale College--and a godsend to Coach Jim Sartoris.
Murphy arrived unannounced on the Vaqueros' doorstep--a primed and cut Grade A fullback--courtesy of Village Christian High School Coach Mike Boshers.
"I saw Trevor in the ninth grade and he was a real dirt bag," Boshers said. "He was the kind of kid who would mouth off. But it was obvious he was the player I wanted on the field."
Football as an Outlet
Boshers introduced Murphy to football, an outlet to vent aggressions that had surfaced in brawling, alcohol abuse and senseless acts, such as tossing eggs at police cars.
A youth minister at Christ Evangelical Church, Boshers teaches athletes leadership qualities, which Murphy possesses. The problem was that Murphy was frequently leading others in the wrong direction.
"He was the type of guy that would say, 'Let's go and get drunk,' and everyone would go," said Murphy's brother, Troy. "He hurt people and they hurt him. It was mutual."
Boshers said Murphy was hungry for athletics--a kid with a lot of potential who only needed guidance.
Life Turned Around
"I don't know what triggered me to turn my life around," Murphy said. "Maybe it was one too many fights or drinks. One thing is for sure, my life couldn't get any lower."
This is a kid who ate a jar of spiders because someone bet he wouldn't.
This is the same kid who put his finger in a rat trap for a $30 bet. No pain, no gain.
This is also the kid who ate snails--uncooked. No challenge too small.
"He is crazy," Boshers said. "He's a guy going upstream."
Murphy not only eats animals, according to brother Troy, he is an animal. "When he's playing football he would rather go straight through someone than around them," Troy said.
The same applies to permanent obstacles on the field.
"I ran into a pole in spring training and got a gash in my leg," Murphy said. "It festered and was too deep to sew up, so I had to leave it open to heal by itself."
Athletes agree that injuries are part of sports, but not many would agree with Murphy's corrective methods, including his cure for a dislocated finger suffered in a game against Valley College.
Tapes Own Injury
"It killed me, but I didn't want to tell the trainer because he would have pulled me out of the game," he said. "It hurts, and I tape it every day, but I'm still in there playing."
Boshers helped Murphy develop his football potential through workouts and weight training. He progressed from a 5-11, 160-pound youngster to a 205-pound fleet-footed predator.
He played three years at Village Christian and received all-league honors, twice as a fullback and once as a linebacker.
"He can run, catch and block," Vaquero running back Joe Conway said. "He can do it all."
Sartoris said he was surprised by Murphy's success because players from eight-man schools such as Village Christian usually are not trained as well as 11-man gridders.
"There is less competition between schools and the coaching staff is smaller," Sartoris said. "The kids have a hard time adjusting to the intensity of college ball."
To most, this would have been a deterrent--but to Murphy it was ideal.
And he received additional help from Boshers--fatherly guidance, which was missing in Murphy's life.
Affected by Divorce
His mother, Karen, said her divorce hit Trevor hard and pulled them apart, although Boshers helped fill the gap. "A boy needs a man's image to grow up with," she said. "I did the best I could, but I couldn't be both a mother and a father to Trevor."
Murphy was caught up in the excitement of his father's occasional visits, but down the road when the dust cleared Murphy saw how much he missed the interaction with his father. His father has never seen him play football--something he deeply regrets.
"I wish I had a dad to throw a ball with in the park and go to football games with. It's a big gap in my life that can never be filled."
His mother is proud of the way her son has grown up but says she can't take credit for the success. "Along the way Trevor had to make the right decisions, and he did."
One decision Murphy made was to play football at Glendale College, although he wasn't sure that he had the speed. Sartoris wasn't sure he could make the transition but gave him a shot.
Murphy did not disappoint him.
Only five games into the season, the starting fullback has proved he can pull his weight. Primarily a blocker, Murphy has carried the ball 23 times for 63 yards and a touchdown. He has caught three passes for 18 yards.
"Rarely does a person with a limited background reach his potential so quickly," Sartoris said. "Trevor has supreme confidence and I believe that is half the battle. He says what he's going to do and he does it."