ATHENS — Georgia’s Aaron Murray refuses to get into a detailed discussion about his plans after this season. “All I’m thinking about right now is Nebraska and the Capital One Bowl,” he says in various different ways. But the Bulldogs’ record-setting quarterback did allow that the prospect of entering the NFL draft after this, his redshirt junior, season is a very real and serious consideration for him.
“I’m definitely going to think about it and pray about it and sit down with my family (to discuss it),” Murray said during Georgia’s Capital One Bowl Media Day Wednesday afternoon at the Bulldogs’ football complex. “But that’s not going to be probably until after the bowl game. I’ll sit down with my family then and really think about it. I have yet to write down anything. I like to write things down and to the pro-con thing and talk to my parents about it. I don’t want to do that until the bowl game. I just want to focus on Nebraska until that’s over. Then we can sit back and relax and discuss.”
There are many out there who will scoff at the notion. They’ll say Murray — listed at 6 foot-1 — isn’t tall enough to excel in the pro game. They’ll say he won’t get selected early enough in the 2013 NFL draft to make it worth his while. They’ll say he’ll want to come back and finish off the few career passing records he doesn’t already own.
But then there are others who vehemently believe Murray not only will make it as a pro but even project him as a “franchise player.” That was the determination of former Super Bowl coach and current NFL television analyst Tony Dungy, who recently sung Murray’s praises to a national audience on the Dan Patrick Show.
“I think if Aaron comes out, he’s a franchise quarterback,” Dungy said when Patrick pinned him down on the subject. “You get a chance to draft a guy and put him in place. And the Chiefs have some play-makers. . . .”
Patrick interrupted Dungy mid-sentence to have him clarify that he thought Murray is “a franchise quarterback.”
“I do,” he said, “because I know him.”
Dungy’s son, Eric Dungy, played with Murray and Plant High in Tampa. Eric Dungy now is a sophomore wide receiver at Oregon.
“So I know the type of worker he is,” Dungy said. “He’d pick my son up in the mornings and go throw, really early Saturday or Sunday mornings. He’s been that way his whole life, just like Peyton.”
Again, Patrick pressed Dungy.
“So you’d take him over Matt Barkley?”
“I’d take Aaron Murray,” Dungy said.
“I’d take Aaron Murray,” Dungy reiterated.
So who would he take if he had the No. 1 overall pick, Patrick finally asked.
“I would take Aaron Murray,” Dungy said without hesitation.
All of which is NOT to say Murray will be taken anywhere that high. Likely not. But, as they say, it takes the infatuation of only one team to make it happen.
And besides, for Murray, it’s not all about draft position.
He has already had a tremendously productive career at Georgia. A three-year starter, Murray is the SEC’s leading active player in total offensive yards (9,618, 10th in SEC history), completions (660), TD responsibility (99, fifth in SEC history), TD passes (89, which is tied for second SEC history) and passing yards (9,399). Currently, Murray leads the nation in pass efficiency at 177.2 and he was named honorable Mention All-SEC this past week.
But he has also nearly exhausted his options academically. At the end of spring semester he will be well on his way to completing requirements for a masters degree in industrial psychology. He could pursue a doctorate, perhaps, or just piddle around with his final thesis. And, of course, Georgia will be loaded on offense, so championship and record pursuits could be enticing.
Murray, again, doesn’t want to speculate too deeply at this point.
“I’m waiting to break down the pros and cons,” he said. “It’s a tough decision and I need my parents and to write everything down. That’s just the type of person I am. I don’t want to just think of things on the top of my head. I want to write things down and think about it and go from there.”
For what it’s worth, Chris Conley and some of Murray’s other teammates think he’s coming back. But Murray promises to keep them in the dark for as long as possible as well.
“Maybe I can milk a couple of dinners out of this,” Murray quipped. “They know I’m not going to talk about it or make any decisions, so they’re not going to bother me about it. But I think the whole dinner thing may work in my favor. I’m going to have to tell the offensive line, ‘Hey, it’s your turn to take me out for ice cream.”
But when talk turns to things like his much debated height — “I AM 6-1,” he insists — or draft analysts such as ESPN’s Mel Kiper say he should “go back,” Murray’s competitive nature kicks in.
“You know, he’s not the one drafting,” Murray said of Kiper’s assessment. “But I don’t really listen to all that stuff. That’s something way down the line that I’ll think about.”
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