Jan. 16, 2014
Freshman Brian Murphy came out of redshirt last month at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational (Dec. 6-7) and turned several heads, nearly defeating Nebraska's No. 3-ranked James Green in the 157-pound semifinals before suffering an injury and defaulting to fifth place. The setback kept the Wolverine rookie off the mat for a month, but he returned strong in the New Year, earning wins in both dual appearances since. Murphy owns a 10-2 season mark and is ranked as high as 12th in the national polls.
As the Wolverines prepare for a big conference weekend, including a road trip to Murphy's homestate Illinois, he took some time before practice to talk about his return from injury, the elevated competition and the immediate impact of several U-M freshmen.
Q: You missed about a month of competition from the Las Vegas tournament until just a couple weeks ago. Do you feel like you lost a step or are you back to where you were?
A: Before the injury, I felt like I was in much better shape than anyone else I wrestled. I still believe that I am, but I'm not quite back to where I was and where I can be. It'll take a little time to get there, but I'm feeling pretty good. My timing was a little off when I first got back, but I think I've worked that out. I should be fine for every dual here on out.
Q: The level of competition is just getting tougher and tougher as we move deeper into the Big Ten season. Is that exciting?
A: Yeah. I'm excited for myself, because I have some good, tough opponents coming up, and I'm excited for the team as well. We've wrestled some good teams early and had some wins and a couple losses. But this is a new team now. I'm excited to go out and face some of these top teams and see how good this team really is.
Q: Are you looking forward to wrestling in Illinois this weekend?
A: I'm definitely excited to wrestle back in the homestate. It'd also be nice to get a win. I'm hoping to get some friends and family down to watch. They said it's kind of based on the weather. My parents will be there for sure, and I've got a bunch of friends at U of I that will be there. So, there will be at least a handful of pro-Michigan fans there.
Q: Is fun for you to have so many Illinois natives on our roster -- with more on the way?
A: Definitely, it's awesome. It was nice to come in with several guys that I already knew. But at the same time, guys like Dom (Abounader) and (Adam) Coon, I already feel like I've known them forever. So now, it doesn't seem like it's quite as big of a deal. Our class gets along great, and we've just all come together.
Q: Are you guys -- the true freshmen in the lineup -- having a lot of fun together? The plan was to redshirt you, but now you're in the lineup and having some good success.
A: Absolutely. It's fun wrestling with the team, traveling around together and facing the best competition. We're definitely having a good time. We're doing well now, and I think there's still a lot of room for improvement. We're all working really hard. I think our fellow freshmen are doing a great job too, and when given the chance to show it, they'll have similar success. We're all very excited for the future.
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