If you were anywhere inside the state of Georgia on January 6, 2013, you probably heard a joyous shout blare throughout the state. That was the day when UGA quarterback Aaron Murray announced he was returning for his senior year when he tweeted, “Blessed to be the QB for the Dawgs, not ready to leave just yet. Time to get back to work & help lead this team to a championship.”
With that tweet, championship aspirations were high in Bulldogs nation once again. Yes, the Bulldogs would be replacing almost all of their defensive starters, but the offense promised to be one of the nation’s most dynamic.
Murray had finished the 2012 season with the best quarterback rating in the country (174.8), while throwing for nearly 3,900 yards and 36 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions. Most importantly, the Bulldogs had finished just five yards away from winning the SEC Championship, which would have given them the opportunity to beat Notre Dame down for the BCS National Championship.
After leading the Bulldogs to consecutive Eastern Division championships, this was destined to be the season that the Bulldogs won their first national championship since 1980.
However, as I wrote in this article entitled, “The Georgia Bulldogs Look to Unite Against All Odds” anything that could go wrong has gone wrong.
As a result of a plethora of injuries and defensive collapses, the Bulldogs are now an unexpected 6-4. However, despite the disappointing record, Murray has proven to be the picture-perfect definition of a leader and elite quarterback.
Once unfairly criticized for the Bulldogs’ record against Top 15 teams, Murray has proven his worth, heart and ability.
American comedian and actor Rodney Dangerfield made popular the catchphrase “I don’t get no respect!” His comedy album, No Respect, won a Grammy Award in 1981. Although the album was released nine years before Aaron Murray was born, it readily applies to him today.
For all he has accomplished, up to this point, Murray has not gotten proper respect!
This past weekend exemplified what has held Murray’s legacy from reaching the “GOAT” status he deserves. Murray orchestrated three fourth-quarter touchdown drives. He threw for two touchdowns and ran for the other on 4th-and-goal from the 5-yard line with 1:49 left.
So what happens next? The defense made an elementary mistake. Now people will always remember a pass
underthrown into triple coverage that was deflected into the air and miraculously ended up in the hands of Auburn wide receiver Ricardo Louis for a 73-yard touchdown.
People will forget Murray’s 452 total yards and four touchdowns because Georgia fell in defeat.
Murray will end his SEC career on top of almost every major passing record in the conference. He is the only quarterback in conference history to throw for over 3,000 yards in three consecutive seasons and will soon have his fourth.
Critics will remind you that while he has won two division championships, he never won an SEC Championship or BCS National Championship. However, that is not his fault. He did all one man can do.
Had he played for Alabama, he would have at least as many championships as A.J. McCarron. The Tide have never won a championship because of their offense. Had he played for LSU, he would have likely won a BCS Championship in 2011.
Remember Murray however you’d like, but he is a winner – period.
Murray was one of the nation’s top recruits coming out of high school in 2009. He was ranked as the nation’s No. 3 quarterback by both Rivals and Scout. They only listed Matt Barkley (USC) and Garrett Gilbert (Texas) above him.
During his junior season at Plant High School, Murray completed 201 of 329 passing attempts for 4,012 yards. He passed for 51 touchdowns to only seven interceptions. In his senior season, he completed 118 of 195 passes for 2,285 yards and 33 touchdowns to only five interceptions.
His numbers took a dip his senior season because he only played in eight games. Midway through the season, Murray suffered a broken leg. He was supposed to be out for the remainder of the season.
However, after watching his team struggle to win its first two games of the playoffs, he courageously returned in time for the semifinal game and Florida 4A State Championship Game.
Despite being in obvious pain and discomfort, Murray led Plant High School to a 34-14 win over Lincoln High School in the championship. Murray was limping during the game, but he was also amazing as he threw three touchdown passes, two of which were good for 72 yards.
Murray is a winner but has been dealt a tough hand. Look at his first season as a starter: A.J. Green was
suspended the first four games, and he had Washaun Ealey and Caleb King as running backs. Not ingredients for success, but he made the most of it.
He never complained with the ever changing offensive line depth charts he has had to play behind. He never complained when the defense gave the game away. He just showed up every day to lead.
All I can say to Aaron Murray is thank you! Covering your career has been an honor. You exemplified everything that is right in college football and I am sorry the rest of the world took too long to notice.
One final note: Rumors are now circulating through Twitter that Murray wants to wear the black jerseys during his final home game. Murray has earned that right, and Bulldogs nation needs to support it.
Black out the crowd, not for fake juice or promotional reasons. Do it as a sign of appreciation and admiration to one of the most important leaders in UGA history. He not only broke records on the field, he was a model citizen off the field who graduated in three-and-a-half years with a double major and a 3.5 grade point average and is now working toward his PhD.
Aaron Murray is a D*mn Good Dawg, and he deserves this display of appreciation.