Athens — As their former classmates complete their final semester of high school, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger are immersed in their first semester as college students — and their first spring as college football quarterbacks.
By all accounts, they are doing fine in spring practice with Georgia, showing flashes of the skills that earned them prep accolades and college scholarships.
“Both of those guys have had their moments this spring,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “But most of all with those two young guys, I’m impressed with their composure, coming out to practice and not really being rattled when they should be in high school.”
They graduated from high school one semester early — Murray from Tampa’s Plant High and Mettenberger from Oconee County High — and enrolled at UGA in January. That made them eligible for spring practice.
“They may not know what they’re doing yet,” Bobo said, “but they’re stepping in there and taking charge, showing leadership and doing a nice job.”
Speaking of not-knowing-what-they’re-doing-yet: Senior quarterback Joe Cox didn’t want the young guys to feel bad about that.
So a few days ago he pulled out a film of a Georgia scrimmage from spring practice 2006.
“You want to see something funny?” he asked Murray and Mettenberger.
Then the three of them watched the ‘06 scrimmage in which Matthew Stafford, a freshman who had been on campus all of two months, and Cox, a redshirt freshman who had never played in a college game, struggled colossally.
“We … got a good laugh out of it,” Cox said.
Cox and Stafford, Cox recalled, “had no idea what to do” in that scrimmage.
“Joe knows what those guys are going through,” said Bobo, who walked into the meeting room as Cox was sharing the film with Murray and Mettenberger. “He was telling them, ‘Guys, we all go through this.’”
That’s one of many things the Georgia coaches appreciate about Cox, who has validated his status as the Bulldogs’ No. 1 quarterback this spring. (For more on that, see this.) Logan Gray – I’ll have a story on him in Sunday’s paper — is No. 2 on the QB depth chart, followed by the two freshmen.
The more time Murray and Mettenberger spend with Cox, the better, as far as Bobo is concerned. “He knows exactly how it’s done, and he’s a master technician,” Bobo said of Cox. “I think that’s why he’s going to be successful, because he’s fundamentally sound. He’s a good guy for those guys to watch.”
And Bobo, of course, is closely watching Murray and Mettenberger – pushing them to improve their footwork and everything else; putting constant pressure on them and gauging their responses.
“Right now, I’m not really judging them on, ‘Will this guy be ready to help us in the fall or not?’” Bobo said. “Right now, I know their heads are spinning, and I just want them out there with a good attitude every day, competing. And they’ve done it.”
So how do you feel about Georgia’s quarterbacks, present and future?