Before Georgia‚Äôs Aaron Murray hit the field with his teammates this week for the start of preseason practices, he picked up a few things from a couple of quarterbacks who made a name for themselves at Tennessee and Ole Miss.
That would be Peyton and Eli Manning. Murray served as a counselor at their Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La.
‚ÄúThey worked with us on a little bit of form if they saw something glaring,‚Äù Murray said of two workouts the Mannings had with the college quarterbacks. ‚ÄúSo I got to learn from two of the best in the game, which was awesome.‚Äù
The fourth-year junior got some pointers from the NFL Super Bowl MVPs and gave some at a camp with more than 1,000 middle and high school campers.
Then came another July trip to Redondo Beach, Calif., near Los Angeles to work the Elite 11 quarterback camp.
‚ÄúIt wasn‚Äôt a vacation by any means,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúIt was a lot of grind, a lot of work.‚Äù
Murray attended it while at Plant High School in Tampa and said he was treated almost like a camper this time, too, going through nearly every drill and 7-on-7 repetition.
‚ÄúWe were dead after five days of waking up at 8 a.m., practicing, taking a break, practice and then at night doing 7-on-7,‚Äù Murray said. ‚ÄúIt was a lot of fun.‚Äù
Murray‚Äôs right arm wasn‚Äôt dead, Bulldogs fans will be glad to know.
He threw with the Bulldogs receivers on this past Tuesday in the morning and afternoon before Georgia‚Äôs camp even started.
‚ÄúHe pays the price as far as the preparation it takes to be a great football player,‚Äù head coach Mark Richt said. ‚ÄúBut he loves it. I think he loves preparing as much as he loves playing.‚Äù
At the Manning Camp, Murray got to measure himself against other college quarterbacks. Southern California‚Äôs Matt Barkley, Arkansas‚Äô Tyler Wilson, LSU‚Äôs Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee‚Äôs Tyler Bray and West Virginia‚Äôs Geno Smith were among those also there.
‚ÄúIt was a sight to see just all the talent we had out there with quarterbacks,‚Äù said Murray, who threw for 3,149 yards with a school-record 35 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season. ‚ÄúI‚Äôd throw a rep and just sit back and just watch the other guys throw. It was pretty cool. It was like a little mini-combine. It was pretty much every top quarterback that will be drafted the next two years was there.‚Äù
Asked if the coaches and media got it wrong, putting Wilson over himself on the All-SEC first-team and Murray on the second team, he said he isn‚Äôt worried about that, just winning games.
‚ÄúI‚Äôll let you guys decide that,‚Äù he said.
Murray got a good review at the Manning camp from former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah, who has worked for the Ravens, Browns and Eagles.
‚ÄúHe has very clean footwork in his drops, as well as a compact delivery,‚Äù Jeremiah wrote on NFL.com. ‚ÄúMurray can generate a lot of velocity and his accuracy was excellent at all three levels. I was surprised at how powerfully he threw the deep ball. Murray had as much range as any quarterback at the camp.‚Äù
Murray listed at 6-foot-1, 210-pound by Georgia was ‚Äúshorter than I anticipated,‚Äù Jeremiah wrote.
Murray sent in paperwork to get an NFL evaluation from an underclassmen committee after last season. He still has two years of eligibility remaining and he admits he‚Äôs probably not going to get taller.
‚ÄúNo, I wish,‚Äù Murray said.
He‚Äôs not thinking about if this might be his final season for the Bulldogs.
‚ÄúJanuary we‚Äôll look at it and figure out from there,‚Äù he said.
Murray said he ‚Äútweaked a couple of things here or there,‚Äù after his summer trips.
Tight end Arthur Lynch said even though Murray was away from on-campus workouts, the trips were worth it. And not only for the free gear he brought back for himself.
‚ÄúThose things where he went, they don‚Äôt just let any one go,‚Äù Lynch said. ‚ÄúThe kid in my opinion is one of the best QBs in the country. I think he has an opportunity to make some noise.‚Äù
Even though this is his fourth preseason, Murray said he couldn‚Äôt get any sleep on Wednesday night knowing that practices were starting the next day.
‚ÄúCamp means that first game is right around the corner,‚Äù he said of the Sept. 1 opener against Buffalo in Athens. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre a month away from suiting it up and hitting Sanford Stadium and playing a game.‚Äù