Murphy earlier in the offseason. (By Richard Lipski/The Washington Post)

For years, Stanford football players have taken a stubborn pride in wearing blue-collared shirts, shirts meant to resemble those worn by hard-working laborers, going against common perceptions of their university.

So when Trent Murphy showed up for his first NFL training camp session in Richmond on Thursday morning, he wore the blue-collared shirt, with his name stitched into the fabric.

“We were just all about being nitty gritty, grimy, dirty guys,” the rookie pass rusher told me. “Waking up at the crack of dawn, putting our blue-collar shirt on and going to work and basically taking what was ours. And that’s what training camp’s all about, is getting up every day, and you’ve got hard work in front of you, but you’re just gonna grind through.”

That philosophy landed Murphy at the Richmond training facility at precisely 6:38 a.m. on Thursday, for a practice that was scheduled for 8:35 but was pushed back by bad weather. Which meant no one was there to admire Murphy’s prized shirt, since he had beaten the rest of the team to the facility. (The last rookie shuttle was leaving the team hotel at 7:15 in the morning; so Murphy could have waited for around 45 more minutes at the hotel.)

Murphy’s shirt, needless to say, isn’t his only homage to hard work. Take his offseason workout program. As he has in the past, Murphy worked out with his father and brother, “which is always interesting,” as he put it. But his father and brother had something new cooked up this summer.

“They do this strong man circuit,” he explained. “They set up water heaters, and then you have to run through the water heaters and knock them all over, [then] flip a tire down, sledge hammer [the tire]. And then you do a farmer’s walk with two water heaters, and throw a water heater over your shoulder, run like 50 yards and then throw it as far as you can. So that’s a little Strongman — Plumbing Edition workout.”

Murphy’s father, you see, is dealing with water heaters professionally, “and so we just have this stockpile of water heaters,” Murphy explained. The water heaters his dad works with range from 50 gallons to 200 gallons; he guessed the ones they were tossing around weighed about 100 pounds, and that he could throw them just shy of 10 yards at the end of the course.

They completed the course in a 50-yard dirt driveway outside the family home; it took around 30 minutes for all three men to finish all the segments.

“It’s exhausting,” he said. “You feel like you just played a football game, pretty much.”

Murphy was critical of his performance on Thursday; he told reporters that he lost contain on one play, “which shouldn’t ever happen.” He said his goals this summer are “to limit mistakes, make plays and earn a spot — at least on special teams — and a contributing role on defense.” He said the fans who watched practice through the rain were “awesome,” that ” I think we have the best fans in the country, for sure.” And he didn’t seem too upset about having been at the facility before anyone else.

“I’m always early,” Murphy told me. “Early is on time, is what we say.”