Ryan Murphy and Bo Blight watch from the bench during their redshirt season. Photo by Chris Crews

When a kid imagines being a Division I athlete, their mind quickly wanders to the glamour of having their names called out as one of the starters. This doesn’t happen without a little bit of hard work, however. For some athletes this hard work  is aided by a year without playing, instead focusing on building skill and muscle.

Ryan Murphy and Bo Blight joined the Charlotte family this summer and, though for different reasons, both became redshirted.

When an athlete is marked as a “redshirt,” it indicates the player will not play for the team for a year in an effort to build up their strength and develop skills. Redshirting saves a year of eligibility for the player.

An injury during the first team practice sidelined Murphy for a few months, which triggered him being redshirted.

“Redshirting this year, I’ve noticed I’ve gotten a lot stronger and become better at things on and off the court. My grades are pretty good. On the court I’ve been able to work on things that I’ve been working on in-season that I wouldn’t have been able to had I been playing” Murphy said.

Blight came onto the team as a walk-on straight from high school. With not having the experience from a prep school, the extra year will help level the playing field for Blight.

“When I was coming in, I was at about 180 pounds, and that’s nowhere near close to what I need to be for my position. I was lacking a little bit in skills. I felt as though if I could take this year and put on weight and get a lot better, I felt like I could contribute more to this program,” Blight said.

Their main duties, in addition to encouraging their teammates from the bench, are scouting the team’s opponents. Focusing on the training aspect of the game without the games allows for further development.

“It’s set a baseline. I’ve spent a year now playing against our best players as a part of the scout team, I’ve been in the weight room and put on some weight. It’ setting a baseline for the players I’ll be playing against,” Blight said.

Sitting on the bench offers a unique perspective for the two. They are able to analyze the team’s performance, taking notes for when they take the court.

“By redshirting and giving myself a learning year I can sit back and learn what the coaches want. When you’re watching the games from a players standpoint you can see what we’ll need next year and what you could do to help the team out on the court and get a win,” Murphy said.

The two, along with the rest of the bench,also provide excitement and encouragement for their teammates on the hardwood.

“I played a lot my senior year of high school and it was a lot of fun when the bench was in to it. I’m just trying to do that for these guys,” Blight said.

Through his year off, Blight has seen improvements within his play.

“I’m doing what I need to do, I’m getting better and I’m happy with the progress I’ve made,” Blight said.

While redshirting wasn’t initially in Murphy’s plan when he came to the Queen City, he has seen the benefits both on the court and in the classroom and can’t wait for his chance to show off on the hardwood.

“Everyone’s path is different, it’s just a process. I didn’t know I was going to redshirt, but I’m happy I did. I think we made the right choice because I’ve grown both on and off the court,” Murphy said. “I can’t wait to play. I had a talk with some of the coaches about next year and my job on the court. I’m itching to play.”



Kathleen Cook is the sports editor of the Niner Times and from Wake Forest, North Carolina. When the junior communication major/journalism minor isn't covering the 49ers, she enjoys spending time with her family, friend, and dog. Kathleen can also be found cheering on the Panthers every Sunday and rooting for the Washington Nationals.