Matt Hayes of the Sporting News released his annual post-spring ranking of the top 25 players in college football, and two Georgia Bulldogs made the list, which was topped by Southern Cal quarterback Matt Barkley.
The first Dawg making the top 25 won’t surprise anyone: Jarvis Jones, who picked up an award as the nation’s top linebacker at the G-Day game, was ranked No. 5 on the list. The breakdown: “Disruptive edge rusher, sure tackler, defensive leader. The perfect combination.” And Hayes quotes an NFL scout as saying Jones is “the prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker. A top five [overall] guy.”
The other UGA player on the list? Aaron Murray, who some UGA fans don’t even think is the best quarterback on the team!
Hayes’ breakdown on Murray: “A fiery, tough competitor with good NFL measurables who has improved every season. Can he lead the Dawgs to a big season?” And an NFL scout says: “He still makes too many poor decisions, and his accuracy is a big question. But you love his moxie and intangibles.”
Hayes and the scout pretty well sum up the upside and downside of Murray, who was the subject of a heated fan Junkyard Mail discussion over the weekend that spilled over onto local sports talk radio in Atlanta Tuesday.
Why the disconnect between the way national sports media see Murray and the grumbling he inspires among some Georgia fans?
Part of it, I think, is the natural tendency of fans to complain about starting quarterbacks (ditto offensive coordinators/playcallers). I remember fans griping about Matt Stafford’s decision-making. And as rock-solid and successful as David Greene was, there was a minor QB controversy for a while early in his tenure, sparked by supporters of D.J Shockley, who thought he ought to get more playing time or be the starter. Remember?
I believe my friend Steve put his finger on it Tuesday when he said he thought the way No. 11 ended the season — with an error-filled implosion in the Dawgs’ bowl game against Michigan State — left a lingering dissatisfaction among fans. The what-have-you-done-for-me-lately syndrome.
But, as Steve said, Murray is still the best quarterback Mark Richt has. And, as Sporting News sees it, one of the best in the nation.
Like I said in Saturday’s Blawg, I think Murray has a lot of areas in which he needs to improve. But I don’t have any doubt he’s Richt’s best choice to lead the Bulldogs right now.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg