BIOGRAPHY

Toughness. It’s a trait commonly associated with the game of football. But for Trent Murphy, toughness is a way of life, and it’s always been that way.

Growing up in Arizona, Trent and his friends free climbed on mountains and rock formations. As an adolescent, he did team roping with his dad, working as the heeler to take down a steer. More recently, he’s done MMA and Navy SEAL style training.

He readily admits toughness is a measuring stick for him, one way of determining the amount of respect he has for another person. But to Trent, toughness goes beyond what you put your body through. It has just as much to do with a person’s mentality as his physical ability.

“How somebody handles adversity is a direct correlation with their level of toughness,” he says. “There are always going to be things you have to overcome, but no one can control your attitude, and your effort, and how you respond to everything that happens. Stuff is going to happen. There’s no question about it. It’s just a matter of when. But how you respond and handle it, says a lot about your character, and who you are, and how successfully you can navigate life.”

BALANCED FROM BIRTH

Trenton Allen Murphy was born on December 22, 1990, the middle child of seven to Laurie and Jerry Murphy. It was through his upbringing, in a large household with six siblings, that toughness was instilled as a vital character trait for Trent at a young age.

Raised near Mesa, Arizona, Trent had the best of both worlds as a child. The buzzing metropolis of Phoenix was close enough that he and his family were able to experience the perks of city life from time to time. But for the most part, he grew up in the much more rural Arizona community of Lehi, on a farm that grew with livestock as he got older.

The family went from owning one horse when he was a kid to six or seven as he got older. They also added some steer, chickens and goats to the farm. It was on that farm that Trent developed the tireless work ethic that carried him to the NFL.

Being relied upon to carry your weight breeds certain traits in a young man, and so too does growing up with three older sisters, as Trent did, making for a truly unique childhood. Trent believes it’s that combination that made him into the man he is.

“I think it’s probably fortunate that all the boys in our family are overgrown and kind of the most masculine males you get,” he recalls. “I don’t know if we were overcompensating for all the estrogen in the house or what. Having horses and that many sisters, I probably learned some unique things about life. Not too many guys can braid hair and things like that, but it was cool.”

Trent also found balance in his life in his mother, who he calls his father’s alter ego. Laurie Murphy instilled kindness, caring and communicativeness into her oldest son’s life, and nurtured them to make him an extremely well-rounded individual.

That balance played a big role when it came to the NFL Draft process, as Trent recalls.

“It was an important balance. It was something I talked about in the Combine process that the coaches loved. They knew what an aggressive, tough, physical football player I was and a some players get into trouble not being able to turn that switch off. So I was able to talk about, having that balance, being able to turn that switch on, and off and enter back into society as a normal, civil human being and not just be a savage all the time.”

The influence of Trent’s father, Jerry, was no less significant. As the oldest boy—and the only for several years until the birth of his younger brother, Connor—Trent was expected to take care of numerous tasks around the far. Yard work is a common chore for most young boys, but when you’re doing it on a couple acres during the Arizona summer, it’s a test.

One time that Trent failed that test—and the subsequent lesson his father taught him—have stuck with him every since.

“He came out to do the inspection afterwards and he wasn’t too happy with the job, so he took the trash cans—two giant trash cans full of leaves, rotten oranges, dog feces, you name it—and dumped them out over the yard again. “That was a horse crap job,” he said. “Do it again.” He was teaching me a lesson of, “If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time and do it well. Don’t half-ass anything.”

NATURAL SELECTION

Trent credits his father with teaching a lot of life’s most valuable lessons: how to take care of and fend for himself, how to treat women, how to defend himself and others, what toughness is and what it means to be tough. They were all important things Jerry wanted his son to know.

“Growing up, kind of looking up to him, and some of the stories and values that he instilled in us, I think are a huge part in who I am today.”

With encouragement from their father, all three of Trent’s sisters played basketball, softball and swam competitively growing up. Still, Trent didn’t spend much time competing in sports growing up, instead devoting his outside interests to doing things that boys growing up on acres of land like to do: climbing trees, running across brick walls and riding horses.

Meanwhile, he watched his sisters compete and excel athletically as they grew. Kayli Murphy, the sister closest to Trent in age, played college basketball at Arizona State and had a brief professional stint in Germany before settling into coaching.

It wasn’t until Trent hit high school that the itch to play sports caught up to him, but ironically, his size and stature nearly derailed his athletic career before it began. As a youngster, Trent dealt with severe growing pains in his knees and heels that made him doubt whether he’d be able to take the grind of playing football. He briefly tried swimming, but when the pain was still prevalent, he decided to suck it up, and go out for football anyway. It quickly became a life-changing decision.

Trent excelled at football from the start. At the end of his freshman season, he was given the choice to either tryout for freshman basketball, or stick with football and join the varsity team for their postseason run. Trent chose football, and he’s stuck with it ever since, thanks in large part to the team’s success over the weeks that followed.

His high school, Brophy Prep, went on to win the first state championship in school history. From that moment on, Trent Murphy was a football player.

“That was such a cool experience to be part of,” he recalls. “I was hooked on that, the camaraderie and the success we had from hard work. It was almost addicting. The rest is history.”

A BEAST IS BORN

Over his high school career, Trent grew into a position on the defensive line, taking the end spot on a 4-3 defense. It was a natural fit given his size and athleticism, and coaches quickly imagined that he’d be able to wreak havoc in the backfield against opposing offense.

They weren’t wrong, but it took a little time. Trent went into football a true novice, having not watched the game growing up, and with no previous playing experience to draw from. During his freshman season, when coaches or peers mentioned “offensive guard” or “offensive tackle,” he had no idea what they actually meant. Trent just knew one thing, one speed. But at that stage, with his natural gifts, that was enough.

“I was literally just a madman out there, hitting things blindly,” he said.

He credits the coaches at Brophy Prep, particularly the team’s defensive coordinator and strength coach Gary Galante, with helping turn him from a wrecking ball, with no rhyme or reason to his play, into a finely-tuned player in short order. A large part of that was due to the discipline and toughness instilled by Galante, who watched videos of BUD/S training done by Navy Seals, and incorporating their techniques into his players’ strength and conditioning workouts.

“Some of the finishers that we had and being able to just hold your body position in certain positions and push past the point of physical fatigue and use your mind to go past those things. It was a pretty unique experience,” Trent remembers.

By his sophomore year, Trent was not only stronger and tougher, he was also grasping how to play the game of football and particularly, how to be a standout defensive lineman. He started to understand blocking concepts, why offenses would attack the defense in a certain way, and how as a defensive lineman he could fight offensive pressure to make plays on defense.

Before his junior year, Trent was approached by the team’s track coach, who doubled as an offensive coach for the football team. He challenged Trent to throw a discus. Without a day of experience practicing, Trent accepted the challenge, and proceeded to out-throw the entire Brophy Prep team discus team.

Trent went on to excel for the Brophy Prep Track and Field Team at shot put and especially discus, where he claimed the runner-up spot in the state as a junior, then finished his high school athletic career by winning the state discus title as a senior.

While Trent enjoyed throwing, football remained his top priority, and he became a force on the Broncos defensive line. Brophy Prep won a second state championship during his junior season, and during his senior year, the underdog Broncos defeated national powerhouse Bishop Gorman out of Las Vegas. That eye-opening victory brought some attention to the Arizona private school, and Trent was one of the biggest benefactors.

CARDINAL CULTURE

Despite not being a five-star recruit, Trent did field several offers from top universities, including the two most prominent local programs: the University of Arizona and Arizona State University. Utah and Colorado also made offers to Trent, but his decision came down to two: Arizona State, following his sister who went to play basketball there, or Stanford University.

A meeting with then Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, where Harbaugh appealed to the toughness that was the backbone of Trent’s upbringing, sealed the deal for Stanford fairly quickly.

“Coach Harbaugh had just put his staff together and they were trying to change the environment, atmosphere and culture of the Stanford locker room. They needed some tough, hard-nosed, bring-your-pail-to-work kind of guys,” Trent said. “So they said they were going around every state, looking for the toughest guys that the state had to offer. They considered me one of those guys.”

Trent recalls the opportunity from Stanford being presented to him as a challenge, that nothing would be handed to him, and he’d have to earn everything. The staff noted that he’d be competing for a spot alongside other defensive end recruits, and that he’d have to prove how tough he was to win the job.

The pitch appealed to everything Trent believed about life to that point. He was in.

“I went to a top academic high school and then went to Stanford, graduated and did well, but it really wasn’t where my head was at the time. I knew academically it was one of the top programs in the country and that was important. but honestly, I went to Stanford for football.”

It turned out to be a great decision, but not without some adversity. Trent redshirted as a freshman while he recovered from a sports hernia, and during his sophomore year, he suffered a broken foot in the first game of the season, ending his year before it ever began. Those two setbacks forced Trent to work his way back up the depth chart at Stanford. Once at the top, he worked tirelessly to make sure that he didn’t lose his spot.

“I definitely had a chip on my shoulder my whole time there, like somebody was right at my heels, trying to take my job, or trying to beat me,” he recalls. “Or another outside linebacker on another team was out-working me somewhere. I was obsessed with my work ethic and everything I was doing, almost to an unhealthy level.”

That hard work paid off. Finally healthy during the 2011 season, Trent broke out with 6.5 sacks in 13 games to help Stanford reach the Fiesta Bowl. A year later, he was even better, rolling up 10 sacks as the Cardinal posted a 12-2 mark and won the Rose Bowl.

Many thought Trent should bolt Stanford after the highly successful season. Trent even tossed around the thought of doing so. One thing that weighed on his mind was the fact that his father Jerry had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer. It was a hard time for the Murphys, and Trent felt like he might be able to help his family with the money he’d get by going pro a year early, and signing with a NFL team.

Fortunately, doctors caught the cancer so early that Jerry was able to be treated and make a full recovery. He had his surgery before the Rose Bowl, and his recovery allowed Trent to decide whether he’d leave Stanford without that on his mind. His father’s health scare also put things into perspective.

“Every day really is a blessing to do the most you can do. And that’s something he always told me too growing up: from whom much is given, much is expected. So don’t let anything go to waste. That is something that he felt from his childhood, that he had talent he didn’t really use. So he tried to shine that light through all of his kids and have us be difference-makers.”

So with one more year of eligibility left and some credits remaining to earn his degree, Trent made the choice to stay at Stanford University with his teammates and finish what they’d started. He saw it as an opportunity to finish college, learn more about the game, hone his craft, and prove that his previous season was no fluke.

Trent did that and then some, compiling 15 sacks, which ranked him first in the Pac-12 and second in the NCAA, and his play earned him consensus All-American honors. He left Stanford having played in 42 games, of which the Cardinal won 35, compiling 32.5 sacks, 52.5 tackles for loss, 160 total tackles, two interceptions and a touchdown.

A DREAM COMES TRUE

Trent’s value was at his peak when he made the leap from college to pro football.

After some injury scares early in his career, he’d proven a tough and durable player that any team could utilize in its front seven, playing in each of the final 41 games of his college career.

“You are never fully healthy through an entire season, and so I think that’s one big pro that a lot of coaches have always seen in me is how durable I am,” he said. “There is no amount of hurt that is going to keep me down or keep me out of a game. I’ve always been under the impression that even me with one arm or one leg is still gonna be better than somebody else in there. I’m just going to fight and hold my own no matter what.”

Throughout the pre-draft process, Trent heard some mixed possibilities about where and what level of the draft he could end up being selected. He impressed during interviews, at the Combine and on his pro day, but as a pass rusher out of Stanford, he wasn’t sure where he’d land. He heard anything from the first to fifth round, and had no idea what to expect.

But he knew that Stanford—especially that fifth year—had prepared him well for whatever happened next.

“My fifth year, I was only in one class, so it was really a great transitional year to the NFL. I could watch extra tape and pick up things from the film I had never even thought of before. I think it was hugely important, not just to my play on the field, but how I could talk about football to the NFL coaches in the interview process. In some of those meetings, I felt like I was almost teaching them stuff. I think how I handled those interviews helped me get drafted where I did.”

Trent recalls that the most stressful part of the draft’s first day was watching his family members react as each pick went by, and seeing how badly they wanted it for him. After day one went by without a call, Trent knew it wasn’t something he wanted to go through for too long much longer. He vividly remembers being ready to break up the small gathering his family had put together, and take his little brother fishing on day two.

But before they could get out the door, the phone rang. It was the Washington Redskins, and they were about to use 47th overall pick on Trent.

“It was everything I’d worked for. I’ll never forget that day as long as I live. I was sitting at home and I got the phone call, and was able to celebrate with my family, so it was huge,” he said. “Going where I fell, which was one of the highest picks on defense coming out of Stanford in a long time, I was pretty excited and pleased with it.”

BACK TO WORK

Trent became the first Stanford defensive player drafted in the second round or higher since Tank Williams went No. 45 overall in 2012.

After signing his first NFL contract, it was right back to the grind.

“All right. Well now I’m here. Now I’ve got to prove to myself and everybody else that I belong here,” TM thought after signing in D.C.

Trent’s first NFL season brought plenty of adversity, and he learned just how hard it is to win at the game’s highest level. The Redskins struggled through a 4-12 season, but No. 93 made a strong impact in Year 1.

He finished with a combined 33 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. All of those sacks came in defeats, but the highlight of the season was undoubtedly the role he played in the biggest of his squad’s four wins: a 20-17 overtime triumph over the eventual NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys.

TM recovered a Joseph Randle fumble early in the game, and later swatted a Tony Romo pass at the line, nearly resulting in another turnover for Washington. That was one of several rookie-year glimpses of what No. 93 could do.

“It was cool having an impact my first year,” Trent said. “It was a lot of fun being able to play with some of those guys: Jason Hatcher, and Kerrigan, and some of the big guys we had up front, doing different packages, and get my first start and first sack, and some TFLs, and stuff like that. It was cool and kind of a dream come true, and really just made me hungry for more.”

TWICE AS NICE

The Washington Redskins did a complete 180 in Trent’s second year, turning a 4-12 finish into a 9-7 regular season, an NFC East championship and a playoff berth.

“It was a huge year. I think the fans needed it. The coaches and players needed it,” TM said of 2015. “To have that work translate to the field finally and have the success was huge for the franchise and hopefully just a building block and a stepping stone into many great years to come.”

It was a bit of a slow start in the District. The Redskins fought their way to a 2-4 record before a big win the following week over a divisional rival, the Eagles. Trent registered one of his team’s five sacks on the day to help stymie Philly’s final drive, and the Redskins came from behind, scoring a touchdown with less than 30 seconds to go. When Trent recovered a fumble on the Eagles’ final possession, the comeback was complete.

After a defeat to the Dallas Cowboys, the Skins sat at 5-7 in a three-way tie with the Eagles and Giants in the NFC East—and the loss even gave life to the Cowboys at 4-8. But all the while, Trent knew his team had a winning mentality.

“One of the biggest things I noticed that changed was the camaraderie in the locker room,” Trent said. “That stuff translates to playing together on the field, which at the end of the day is how football is meant to be played: together as a team.”

Facing a four-way battle for the division with four games to go, the Redskins faced a tough road. Three of their final four contests were away from home, and the D.C. crew was 0-5 out of FedEx Field.

But they came together.

In Week 14, Trent had his biggest play of the season and arguably his young career. The Redskins led 14-0 early in the second quarter against the Chicago Bears when TM blew past lineman Kyle Long and annihilated quarterback Jay Cutler, knocking the ball loose and recovering the fumble. Washington went on to win, 24-21.

“I probably had one of my biggest sacks and hits, no question, of my career yet in the Chicago game,” TM recalled. “Beat a guy clean, had a sack, fumble recovery, kind of the three big ones all in one play, and it was a crushing hit too. So there were a lot of positives to take from the 2015 season and a step in the right direction.”

That win sparked a clutch four-game win streak for Washington. The Skins topped the Buffalo Bills, Eagles and the Cowboys in consecutive weeks to clinch the divisional crown and secure a playoff berth.

THE NEXT CHAPTER

The Redskins drew a tough matchup in the opening round against the Green Bay Packers and former Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers, and in an off day for the D.C. squad, the Skins fell, 35-18. But the playoff exit left Trent looking forward to making even more strides in Year 3.

Early in the offseason, he was given a task by the Washington coaching staff: become a defensive lineman.

“Originally I thought, ‘Man, they want me to move positions. What’s this about?’ But then I really just saw it as an opportunity and an opportunity to do what I want to do, which is moving forward and being disruptive in pass rush in the backfield,” Trent says. “I’m preparing myself for two things. That’s just to be explosive and to kick ass at whatever position. However it pans out, I just want to be a handful at whoever has to block me.”

As he embraces the challenge of the next chapter in his career, Trent is ready to do whatever to help the Redskins bring home a Super Bowl.

“Redskins fans are some of the most loyal fans in the country and they are not bandwagon fans by any means. We’re gonna keep chopping away for you. Being a championship-caliber team is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve made a great step in that direction and we’re gonna keep making steps in that direction. Be excited for this journey. Let’s hop on.”