Monday, January 21, 2013
Changing the game: Aaron Murray
By David Ching
ATHENS, Ga. -- Aaron Murray hasn’t finished creating a legacy at Georgia. He made that clear on Jan. 6 when he announced his intentions to return for his senior season.
But Georgia’s quarterback has already cemented a place as one of the top players at his position to ever wear a Bulldogs uniform. With another year, he can also become the most prolific passer in SEC history.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is well within striking distance of some very hallowed team and league records.
Murray has also lived up to every bit of the considerable recruiting hype that accompanied his signing with the Bulldogs in 2009, claiming a starting job as a redshirt freshman the following year and leading Georgia to back-to-back SEC East titles in 2011 and 2012 -- with his 2012 squad becoming the highest-scoring offense ever at UGA.
That production makes Murray one of the most significant recruits in Mark Richt’s tenure as the Bulldogs’ head coach, as his quarterback helped reverse a three-year slump by providing a steady presence on offense that allowed the Bulldogs to once again rank among the nation’s elite programs.
Murray came to Georgia as one of the nation’s most heavily recruited players, with ESPN naming him the No. 13 overall prospect of 2009 and No. 3 quarterback among a talented group that included top overall prospect Matt Barkley of USC, Texas’ Garrett Gilbert, Alabama’s AJ McCarron and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd. Murray was the No. 3 overall prospect and was in the running for the top spot when he broke his leg and dislocated an ankle during a game in October 2008, causing him to drop down the list a bit.
But he returned from the injury after only two months of grueling rehabilitation, helping his Tampa (Fla.) Plant High School team win the state championship and showing off the toughness that would mark his Georgia career to this point. Murray has started every game in the last three seasons and is on pace to become the SEC’s career leader in most significant passing categories.
With 95 touchdown passes, he is 19 away from Florida’s Danny Wuerffel for the conference’s passing touchdown record (114). With 10,091 career passing yards, he is 1,437 behind Georgia’s David Greene (11,528). With 696 completions, he trails Florida’s Chris Leak (895) by 199. And with 1,131 pass attempts, Murray is 383 behind Kentucky’s Jared Lorenzen (1,514).
Considering that Murray’s average production in three years as a starter is 232-for-377 for 3,364 yards and 32 touchdowns, all of those records are well within his reach should he enjoy an additional full season of good health.
Murray insists that winning takes precedence in his mind over statistical achievement, however, and he has one last chance to differentiate between what has already been a record-breaking career and one that he will view as an overall success.
He and the Bulldogs fell just short of upsetting Alabama for the SEC championship and playing for the BCS title in 2012. Murray has already helped turn Georgia’s program back in the right direction with division titles in the last two years, but he understands that quarterbacks are ultimately measured by championships won -- and he hopes his final season will make his college career an all-around success.