Justin Murphy pulls switcheroo, to leave UCLA after it helped him gain extra year of eligibility

UCLA offensive lineman Justin Murphy blocks USC defensive end Christian Rector at the Rose Bowl on Nov. 17.
(Shotgun Spratling / Los Angeles Times)

Two days after thanking UCLA’s compliance department for helping him gain a sixth year of college eligibility, Justin Murphy announced that he was going to use it elsewhere.

The graduate transfer offensive lineman revealed his change of plans Wednesday on Twitter, writing that he was grateful for his experiences as a Bruin and was optimistic for the future of the program.

“I believe the foundation for a Pac-12 championship has been laid at UCLA, and one thing that Bruin fans can for sure get behind is that coach [Chip] Kelly and his staff will stay the course,” Murphy wrote. “However, moving forward I will be transferring to another university to finish out the last year of my college football career.”


Concerns about securing a starting spot for his final college season may have been an issue. Murphy, who played both tackle and guard, came off the bench for the final two games of the season after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure on his knee to clean up cartilage damage.

Murphy had started the first four games before injuring his knee against Colorado in late September. UCLA’s line enjoyed some of its best games in his absence and established some young depth late in the season, with freshmen Alec Anderson, Jon Gaines and Sam Marrazzo all becoming part of the rotation.

The Bruins could return their entire late-season starting offensive line if junior left tackle Andre James decides to come back for one more college season instead of making himself available for the NFL draft. Center Boss Tagaloa, right tackle Jake Burton and guards Michael Alves and Christaphany Murray are all expected to return.

UCLA also recently landed a highly coveted prospect in Sean Rhyan, a tackle from San Juan Hills High in San Juan Capistrano who has committed to the Bruins and could immediately compete for playing time.

Murphy, who spent his first three college seasons at Texas Tech before transferring to UCLA, did not specify where he was headed. One possibility might have emerged nearby with the arrival of Kliff Kingsbury, Murphy’s coach with the Red Raiders, as the new offensive coordinator at USC.