Q&A with UNLV offensive tackle Matt Murphy

Matt Murphy has been an integral part of UNLV’s offensive line since his first season, when he earned freshman All-America honors.

The left tackle loves the movie "The Blind Side" — which glorifies his position.

But there is a lot more to Murphy, a senior from Lake Forest, Calif. He has traveled the world, is heavily involved in off-the-field activities and loves sushi.

Murphy, whose Rebels play New Mexico at 7 p.m. Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium, recently spoke to the Review-Journal.

1. Where have you traveled?

I’ve gone to the Middle East, China, Europe twice, Alaska and Mexico a couple of times.

When we go, we go as a family. There’s 16 of us. It’s the whole mom’s side of the family. We have fellowship, eat, sightsee.

One of my favorite trips, I was a sophomore in high school. We spent two weeks in Germany at a bed and breakfast. It was just me, my mom and my two sisters and we got immersed in the culture. We stayed with an elderly German lady who cooked authentic German food for us. We learned some of the language.

2. Does traveling around the world make you appreciate what we have in our country?

Especially when I went to the Middle East and China. It’s definitely a whole different culture, and it’s always nice coming back home and sleeping in your own bed. I feel relieved sometimes. Once you see other people’s cultures, you realize how special yours is.

3. What stands out about your Middle East travels?

Jordan, Egypt and Israel. We were in Bethlehem on Christmas Day, so it was really cool. I was a junior in high school. You go to Sunday school and you learn about all these places, but when you see it with your own eyes, it definitely is inspiring. It paints a better picture of your faith.

Everyone always talks about how it’s unsafe there, but we never got that feeling. Even when we were at the pyramids, it was really eye-opening.

We did go to Jerusalem, but I was sick that day so I had to stay at the hotel. They went to the Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock. I was bummed.

4. What inspires you to want to be a math teacher?

I really like the idea of working with kids. When you work with kids, you never know what to expect, which can be good and can be bad, but worthwhile.

My whole family teaches — my aunt, uncle, grandparents — so I guess it’s in my blood.

Math is something I’ve been all right at. I didn’t have to go tutor for math. I figure if I can get the classes at UNLV and get them done, I can teach it to someone, too.

I work at a junior high (Silvestri) right now, volunteering. It’s fun. They look up to you, especially when you’re an offensive lineman: "Whoa, you’re huge!"

5. What other off-THE-field activities are you involved in?

I team up with Sara (Swanson, UNLV football program director). She does a great job with community service. I love giving back. It’s something I’ve been taught growing up. "Don’t take; be a giver," my dad says.

6. While at El Toro (Calif.) High School, what other activities did you participate in?

I did three years of choir. We traveled to Boston for a performance. It was kind of like a jazz/dance/choir theme.

I had a sequin vest, and a lot of people gave me crap, but it was fun. I tell my sisters, the more you get involved, the better high school is.

7. As for being a teacher, what if the NFL comes calling?

Anybody would be stupid to pass up that chance. I’m definitely going to work my hardest and try every day at practice to be at my best. If that happens, then I’m going to be more than happy to say "yes" to playing in the NFL. But I’ve got a backup plan of being a teacher.

8. What did you think of "The Blind Side?"

I thought it was cool because I thought they did a good job at portraying what a lineman’s job is like. Most people didn’t know what a blind side was before that movie. I thought, to be an offensive lineman, that makes you proud because now people know what you do and how you work and how important you are.

9. You were recruited by UNLV and UNR. Why did you choose the Rebels?

I didn’t know a whole lot about the schools before I went there, so the biggest difference was the trips. The Reno trip was good, but — I don’t remember exactly, it was so long ago — there was something wrong with the scholarship situation, so they didn’t offer me until kind of the end.

But when I came to UNLV, the coaches were great, the players showed me around, I had a good time. I really enjoyed my trip to UNLV more so, and I thought I would fit better here.

10. Linemen are well-knowN for healthy appetites and usually eat a lot of beef. Is it true you’re really into sushi?

All the offensive linemen love sushi. I remember when we came home from camp, we were like, "We need sushi. It’s been too long. We need to celebrate coming back from camp." So we got all-you-can-eat and stayed there for a couple of hours. We got to know the chef real well, so when we walk in there sometimes, we don’t have to order.

They start throwing salmon on our table, and we’re like, "Keep it coming." I love rolls, anything with shrimp tempura and avocado. I’m not big on a whole lot of fish, but I’ll eat salmon.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914.

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