Andrae “Dre” Murphy ’07 is ready to step back on the football field as a Bulldog. But this season, he won’t be wearing the jersey – instead, he’ll be leading the team as the head coach.
Murphy was named head coach of the football team in January, coming home to the place he started both his academic and athletic careers. While at Dean, he earned honorable mention NJCAA All-American and First Team All-Northeast Junior College honors as a defensive back from 2005-07, as well as an associate degree in Communications. After graduating from Dean, Murphy served in the United States Army as a combat infantry fire team leader from 2011-15, stationed at Fort Stewart and deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. He first started coaching while enrolled in the officer program, and became so passionate about it that when the time came to leave the Army, Murphy knew exactly what he wanted to do next – continue coaching. The former defensive coordinator that recruited Murphy to Dean helped him get a job at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. That experience helped bridge the gap between Army and civilian life, and Murphy spent two years two years there as a defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach.
The time he spent in the Army, though, has made a major impact on his coaching philosophy. One of the main lessons he instills his players is how to handle adversity – whether that’s on the field, in their classes or social lives and even in their adult lives after graduating from college. “That’s the biggest thing as a coach that I take pride in, trying to prepare people for that adversity,” Murphy said. He often uses the phrase “Charlie Mike” while coaching, a phrase from the Army that stands for “continue mission,” to motivate players to continue pushing forward. But it’s just as important for Murphy that everyone maintains perspective and remembers why they’re playing in the first place.
“At the end of the day, we all want to win, we all want to be competitive, but football is a game,” he explained. “I approach life and football by realizing that, ‘Okay, this is supposed to be fun.’ Let’s enjoy this and not get caught up in everything else.”
After leaving Mass Maritime, Murphy went on to be a defensive quality control coach at Florida Atlantic University, defensive backs coach at the College of Holy Cross and then defensive backs coach at Columbia University. During this time, he also earned a bachelor’s degree from Salem State University, an MBA in sport management from Lynn University and a Master of Science in sport management from Columbia. Those degrees were only possible, he said, because he was able to earn an associate degree from Dean first.
“Dean College changed my life for the better and I’m grateful for it,” he said. “Coming to Dean when it was a two-year school, because I didn’t make the best decisions academically in high school, it was a full circle moment. You go from a junior college to getting a master’s degree from an Ivy League school, and now I have the opportunity to come back to where it all started for me. Dean is up there with all of those degrees, because I don’t know if I’d continue to go to school [if I hadn’t gotten my degree from Dean]. It set the bar.”
When Dean’s head coaching job opened up, it was a former teammate from Dean who called Murphy about it. Though he had had a successful five years at Columbia, the time spent reminiscing with his fellow alumnus and the pride he had about being a Bulldog sparked his desire to apply for the job – and to take the talent on the team and turn it into a winning season.
Murphy uses his past experiences on the team to both influence his coaching strategies and relate to the current players. “I’ve worn the jersey,” he said. He knows what it’s like. The Bulldogs went 2-8 the season before he came to Dean as a freshman, just like they did in 2021. “We worked hard and we all pushed each other, partly because we understood that whatever we did was going to help us get to the next level of where we were trying to go. We, as a team, decided that we wanted to be good,” he said. “That’s something that I want our guys to understand here. Everything we do going forward is about focusing on what we can do today to get to the next level.”
Though the program has grown since Murphy’s days, when there were more players on the team than helmets or lockers, and the recent renovations to the locker room, weight room and other spaces have elevated the athletic facilities, his game plan is about coming back to the basics – hard work, commitment, teamwork and a love of the game. He wants to grow the program not only for the players who are here now, but also for the future. He hopes that one day (sooner rather than later) the Bulldogs will win a national championship, and that both those players and alumni will know they each had a part in earning that success and building that legacy – that they worked for it every single day.
It’s a legacy that Murphy himself is proud to be a part of. During the interview process, he told the players he met that whether he got the job or not, they were going to be forever connected as fellow Dean College football alumni. And it’s that connection with former teammates and fellow alumni that is one of the many things that excites Murphy about being back at Dean.
“I didn’t think it would impact this many people, as it did the amount of people that have reached out with love and support,” he said. “I want our guys that are currently on the team to see [and join] that brotherhood.”
As the first football game of the season quickly approaches, we’re cheering on Coach Murphy and the entire football team! Stay up-to-date on the latest news and games at Dean Athletics.