Before Georgia’s 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.
“They worked with us on a little bit of form if they saw something glaring,” Murray said of two workouts the Mannings had with the college quarterbacks. “So I got to learn from two of the best in the game, which was awesome.”
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.
“It wasn’t a vacation by any means,” he said. “It was a lot of grind, a lot of work.”
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.
“We 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,” Murray said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Murray’s right arm wasn’t 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’s camp even started.
“He pays the price as far as the preparation it takes to be a great football player,” head coach Mark Richt said. “But he loves it. I think he loves preparing as much as he loves playing.”
At the Manning Camp, Murray got to measure himself against other college quarterbacks. Southern California’s Matt Barkley, Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee’s Tyler Bray and West Virginia’s Geno Smith were among those also there.
“It was a sight to see just all the talent we had out there with quarterbacks,” said Murray, who threw for 3,149 yards with a school-record 35 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season. “I’d 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.”
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’t worried about that, just winning games.
“I’ll let you guys decide that,” 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.
“He has very clean footwork in his drops, as well as a compact delivery,” Jeremiah wrote on NFL.com. “Murray 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.”
Murray listed at 6-foot-1, 210-pound by Georgia was “shorter than I anticipated,” 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’s probably not going to get taller.
“No, I wish,” Murray said.
He’s not thinking about if this might be his final season for the Bulldogs.
“January we’ll look at it and figure out from there,” he said.
Murray said he “tweaked a couple of things here or there,” 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.
“Those things where he went, they don’t just let any one go,” Lynch said. “The kid in my opinion is one of the best QBs in the country. I think he has an opportunity to make some noise.”
Even though this is his fourth preseason, Murray said he couldn’t get any sleep on Wednesday night knowing that practices were starting the next day.
“Camp means that first game is right around the corner,” he said of the Sept. 1 opener against Buffalo in Athens. “We’re a month away from suiting it up and hitting Sanford Stadium and playing a game.”