NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The Rutgers football team got some good news as it prepared to face Penn State in the finale of what has been a long and difficult season.
Cole Murphy, a redshirt senior, has been named as a finalist for the Pete Mortell Award given annually to college football's premier holder.
Murphy, who also plays wide receiver, has been a holder this year on nine field goals and 18 extra points.
And although it seems unusual to have an honor to recognize an extremely specialized position and even though the award began humorously enough when former Minnesota holder Peter Mortell chose himself as the inaugural recipient in 2015, the Mortell Award has distinguished itself in recent years.
The Mortell Award finalists are adjudged by their on-the-field holding skills as well as their off-the-field accomplishments.
Murphy recently launched a fund-raising campaign in recognition of Movember, an annual event in which men typically grow mustaches during the month of November to raise awareness for issues related to men's health. Movember, in particular, shines a light on men's mental health issues.
Murphy has raised about $2,500 and his team, Ferocious Starches, has raised more than $5,600.
On Friday, he tweeted, "My goodness, I’m truly speechless. So I’ll just resort to typing. I want to thank @Pmortell1 for being the legend that he is and constructing this fantastic award. I'm blessed that @MortellAward has considered my hands #Angelic enough to make it into the Finalist round."
Murphy's nomination was welcomed good news as Rutgers (2-9, 0-8) prepared to travel to Happy Valley to face No. 12-ranked Penn State (9-2, 6-2). Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. and the game will air on the Big Ten Network.
Rutgers beat Penn State in their first meeting 1010 years ago (26-3). Since, Penn State has had the upper hand. The Nittany Lions have won the past 12 meetings. Rutgers hasn't beaten Penn State at Beaver Stadium since 1988.
The on-again, off-again negotiations between the university and former coach Greg Schiano have cast a large shadow over the team in recent weeks.
Honors are nothing new for Murphy. He was a 2018 Academic All-Big Ten selection. He has also been named as a nominee for the Burlsworth Trophy, which honors the top walk-on in the nation.
The finance major is originally from Kansas.