Aaron Murray to return to Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. -- Perhaps the most important piece of the highest-scoring offense in Georgia history will be back for 2013.
Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray announced via Twitter on Sunday night that he will return for his senior season.
"Blessed to be the QB for the Dawgs, not ready to leave just yet," Murray tweeted. "Time to get back to work & help lead this team to a championship."
This season, Murray became the first SEC quarterback to pass for 3,000-plus yards in three consecutive years when he threw for 3,893 yards to go with 36 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In three seasons as the Bulldogs' starter, Murray's 10,091 career passing yards rank eighth in league history and his 95 touchdown passes are second behind only Florida's Danny Wuerffel (114).
Murray said last week that the NFL's college advisory committee told him he could expect to go in the second or third round of the draft. Murray's hope is that another year in college can help him improve that standing, but he faced long odds against becoming a first-round pick whether he came out this season or waited another year. "I'm not worried about where I'm going to get drafted next season," Murray said. "I think you play a dangerous game when you're worried about that. I think my No. 1 goal right now is to continue to get better. Like I said, I still have some areas of improvement and things I need to work on as a quarterback, and do whatever I can to make sure this team gets some championships, gets some rings next year."
Because of his height -- he's 6-foot-1 -- some pro teams are sure to discount his value as a potential first-round pick. At least that's the historical trend in the modern era of the draft. In the last 25 years, 57 quarterbacks went in the first round, but only three were listed at 6-1 or shorter: Florida's Rex Grossman (6-1, 2003), Virginia Tech's Michael Vick (6-0, 2001) and UCLA's Cade McNown (6-1, 1999).
"The height thing is going to be the big factor in terms of how he's viewed by the NFL," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said last month. "Is he going to be 6 feet or a little over?"
Murray often jokes about the height questions, noting that he aspires to enjoy the same level of success as another undersized quarterback: New Orleans Saints star Drew Brees, who is 6-foot. Brees was the first pick in the second round, 32nd overall, after an outstanding career at Purdue.
But he, Vick and 5-11 Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson are exceptions to the rule in the NFL -- and the fleet-footed Vick and Wilson play a completely different brand of quarterback than the more traditional Brees and Murray.
"It's a tough call, and it really boils down to, 'Where is he?' " Kiper said last month of Murray's impending NFL decision. "He's played a lot of football at Georgia. It seems like he's been there forever. If he comes out, I think he will be in the second- or third-round discussion, but if he wants to be a first-round pick and improve his stock, you go back.
"It really depends on where he is in terms of his career and where he is in terms of whether he wants to move on into the NFL and take his chances."
After setting multiple Georgia passing records -- including bowl records with five touchdown passes, 427 passing yards and an 87-yard touchdown pass to Chris Conley in his final college game, Georgia's 45-31 win against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl -- Murray now will have the chance to etch his name atop many of the SEC's career passing lists.
Former Georgia quarterback David Greene holds the SEC career passing yardage record with 11,528 yards, just 1,437 ahead of Murray's three-year total. With 696 career completions, he is 199 away from Florida quarterback Chris Leak's record of 895. And with 1,131 career attempts, Murray trails Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen's SEC record by 383 passes.