Four Lawrence high school football players were selected to compete in the Shrine Bowl, but only two might play in the July 28 game at Fort Hays State University.
Free State High seniors Ryan Murphy and Mikel Ruder had surgery last week. Ruder won't play and Murphy is questionable. Free State senior defensive lineman Kyle Weinmaster will take Ruder's place.
Lawrence High senior wide receiver Nathan Padia likely will play.
Murphy battles shoulder injury
Murphy had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder Jan. 19. The senior hurt his shoulder during the Sept. 7 game at Olathe East, but played through it the rest of the year. Murphy, who has verbally committed to Kansas University, will wear a sling for six weeks.
"If I didn't get the surgery, it could always bother me," Murphy said. "I wanted to do it now to be as healthy as possible for the summer. I didn't want to go into the summer with it; then I'd automatically have to redshirt."
Murphy said he'd be 100 percent for KU two-a-day practices in the summer.
The do-it-all quarterback was a massive part of the best football team in Free State history. Murphy led the Firebirds to an undefeated 9-0 regular season and won two playoff games before losing to Shawnee Mission West in the semifinals of the Class 6A playoffs. He finished the year with 1,863 yards passing, 1,084 yards rushing (2,947 combined) and 32 total touchdowns.
The outrageous stats spoke for themselves when a group of nearly 40 media professionals selected 68 Kansas high school players for the Shrine Bowl. Murphy was an obvious lock.
Murphy's focus for the majority of the summer will be on KU football. He will make a transition from quarterback to wide receiver when he plays for coach Mark Mangino.
Murphy recently spoke to KU players such as Todd Reesing, Derek Fine, Xavier Rambo and Tertavian Ingram for football advice.
"They said it's a battle every day because everyone wants to play on the field," Murphy said. "Everybody's fighting for position. They said the coaches will be on you, but you can't let it get to you."
Murphy spoke to Mangino as well.
"He seems like a nice guy," Murphy said. "He's really funny, too. It seems like you can talk with him about anything that's going on. It doesn't always have to be about football."
Ruder tears ACL
Ruder, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound nose guard, tore his ACL playing intramural basketball Jan. 16. He had surgery two days later.
"My ACL ripped in half and detached, and they had to repair that with a piece of my hamstring," Ruder said.
Ruder hadn't had any previous surgeries. He said his worst injury had been a broken ankle when he was in sixth grade.
"It's terrible because I played nose guard for three years for Free State," Ruder said. "You'd think I'd get a little more banged up than I did."
Ruder said his doctor told him he'd be back to full strength by next season. He will take part in a physical therapy program for six months.
Ruder still is undecided on where he will play football, but said he was currently leaning toward Missouri State. He will play on the defensive line.
As for the Shrine Bowl, Ruder said he was disappointed on his status for the game, but being selected was an honor.
"Obviously, that's a pretty big award," Ruder said. "Just having Ryan make it from Free State with me is awesome. And Padia's a good receiver. He deserves it all the way. It's good to get a bunch of guys from Lawrence in there."
Padia relishes honor
Padia was the go-to receiver last season for the Lions, hauling in 33 passes for 782 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Currently, he's a member of the LHS boys basketball team. He said training for the two sports was completely different.
"People think that when you come straight from football to basketball that you should be in shape, but it's the complete opposite," Padia said. "You've got to start training harder for sprints. The game's in July, so I'll have a lot of time to get ready."
Padia hasn't decided where he'll attend college, but said he would make a decision by next month. He'd like to play football.
"Hopefully, with an honor like this, I can add something to my resume," Padia said of the Shrine Bowl. "To be one of the top players in the state of Kansas is an honor."
Once basketball season ends, Padia will have a quick turnaround for getting back into football shape.
"I'm probably going to have to start running more again - and catching footballs, too. That's what I really need to do," Padia said, laughing. "That's why they selected me. I'll work on it, though, and it'll be all right."
Padia has never been to Fort Hays State. From his description of the accommodations, he'll welcome the trip.
"They fly us down on a luxury jet, so it's going to be pretty fun," Padia said. "They have a nine-day camp, so it's a pretty serious deal. I'm ready for that."