When Aaron Murray committed to play football at The University of Georgia back in 2008, it was seen as a major victory for the program. The highly touted quarterback from Tampa's Plant High School had chosen the Bulldogs over his home state Florida Gators. Despite heavy recruitment from Urban Meyer and pressure from friends and family, Murray chose the Dawgs and later helped recruit teammate Orson Charles to come to Athens as well. During his senior season at Plant, Murray came back from a broken foot to lead his team to a state championship.
Mark Richt had already declared Joe Cox the starter by the time Murray enrolled early at Georgia for the spring semester in 2009. He played well in spring practice and had an impressive debut at G-Day. During the fall, he developed a shoulder injury that caused him some pain when throwing. After the debacle against Tennessee, many (including myself) thought it was time to give Murray a shot. But the injury ultimately proved to be too much and Murray remained on the sideline for the remainder of the season.
During spring practice this year, Murray continued to impress the coaches and appeared to have a lead on the starting job heading into G-Day. And suddenly it seems everyone's opinion of Murray changed.
Murray had the worst day of the three Georgia quarterbacks, including a bad interception that killed a nice drive. Combined with a great performance by fellow freshman Zach Mettenberger, suddenly Murray was no longer the favorite to be the starter in the minds of many fans. A few weeks later, Mettenberger was kicked off the team and Coach Richt named Murray #1 on the depth chart. By the reaction of many fans, you would have thought Joe Cox was coming back for another season.
All summer long, I have continued to hear questions about Aaron Murray. Yes, he is a freshman who has not played a down, so some of those questions are warranted. But why do people suddenly think that a player considered one the five best quarterback prospects in the 2009 class is suddenly not up for the job. I have heard questions about his height, his throwing arm, and his ability to handle the offense.
Yes he is a freshman, but a redshirt freshman that enrolled early and will have been on campus for nearly 20 months by the time he makes his first start. Arm strength has never appeared to be a problem in either of the G-Day games I have seen him play in and his film from high school supports it as well. He will have a veteran offensive line, two great running backs, and the best receiver in the country to throw to.
So unlike former freshman starters David Greene (who started during the team's first year in a new system under Richt) or Matt Stafford (who started as a true freshman on a team that struggled much of the season), Murray will not be relied upon to carry the team on offense. Georgia fans need to remember the excitement we had when he committed as opposed to questioning everything about him before he even takes the field.