- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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One practice is in the books this preseason for Georgia redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray, and it’s fair to say that he’s pumped about the possibilities with this offense.
Some of his veteran teammates might be even more so, including the guys on defense. They're equally pumped about Murray's ability to lead this team.
“The thing about Aaron is that he looks like he belongs out there in everything he does, and that’s the way he plays,” Georgia senior defensive end Demarcus Dobbs said. “He’s been doing it all summer. He’s been the guy who calls 11 on 11s, calls team meetings, and he’s stepped up and done it on the field, too.
“He’s young and some guys have been here longer than he has, but sometimes you have to put your ego down and let the younger guy take the reins and support him when he’s ready, and Aaron is definitely ready. He hasn’t tried to be overbearing. He’s just done things in a way that guys treat him as a leader.”
That starts with using the people around him and not trying to be a hero, as Georgia coach Mark Richt is fond of saying.
“I have an unbelievable line in front of me and great receivers and running backs around me,” Murray said. “All I have to do is make the passes I do every day in practice and carry that over into games. I have tremendous athletes around me, and I know they’re going to make plays. I can throw a 10-yard comeback, and they’re going to turn it into a 30-yard gain.
“People keep asking about the pressure of being a first-year starter in this league, and there will be. That’s just the way it is, but you don’t really feel it when you’re surrounded by tremendous athletes.”
The other thing that helps Murray is that he’s been around the program going on two full years now. He graduated high school early and has gone through two spring practices. This is his second preseason camp.
Granted, he’ll be seeing SEC defenses live for the first time, but his grasp of the Bulldogs’ playbook will be much more advanced than most freshman first-year starters in this league.
Murray said he “feels great” about 85 to 90 percent of the playbook and is still learning.
“It’s a big playbook and I don't know that you ever really master the whole thing. I’m sure we’ll go with the plays I’m most comfortable with and lean on those,” Murray said. “But I’m going to continue to become more familiar with everything in there because I’ll be taking more reps than I ever have.”
Murray experimented with a glove on his throwing hand in the spring and wore it some in the offseason, but the glove is off now that preseason camp has started. He started using it initially when it was still cold back in February and the ball was harder to grip.
“I stuck with it into May and even into June some,” Murray said. “But in the end, I just felt more comfortable without it.”
While all eyes will surely be on Murray to see if he can indeed lead this football team into championship contention in his first year as a starter, he said the gauge he will pay most attention to is how hard this team works.
“My goal has always been to lead by example and work harder than anybody else,” Murray said. “We’ve done that as a team. Everyone has bought in, and everyone is on the same page. Our work ethic has been there all summer, and I think a tremendous camp will slingshot us right into the season.”