HOOVER, Ala. — By the time Aaron Murray’s last college season is over, the Georgia fifth-year senior should own a bunch of Southeastern Conference passing records.
That could be the easy part compared to landing a spot on the postseason all-conference team, which features only a first and second team, in a league Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and two-time national championship winner AJ McCarron also call home.
Murray, considered a Heisman Trophy candidate, was named third-team preseason All-SEC on Thursday by the media.
“I’m not worried about it at all,” Murray said as SEC Media Days wrapped up. “There’s nothing wrong with going under the radar. It’s fine with me. I’m not here to break records or win a Heisman. I just want to win some championships. … That’s why I came back for my senior year is to try and leave here with some rings. I’m excited for that. I could care less if I’m 1-2-3 or if I’m not ranked at all.”
Murray is certainly a star for Georgia, but he doesn’t have quite the level of celebrity of Manziel and McCarron, who attracted the biggest crowds of reporters in the main media room this week.
Murray has 86,800 Twitter followers, which is more than coach Mark Richt’s 69,300 but is dwarfed by McCarron’s 162,000 and Manziel’s 390,100.
“I like Murray, I’m glad we’ve got him,” Richt said. “It is a conference that has a lot of great quarterbacks. Experienced guys. Guys that have played a bunch of big games and had a bunch of success.”
Brent Musburger ogled on air about McCarron’s girlfriend, Katherine Webb, and Manziel walked the red carpet at the ESPYs on Wednesday night before winning College Male Athlete of the Year.
“McCarron has a famous girlfriend because he had a girlfriend in that game and the camera was on her,” Georgia receiver Chris Conley said a few weeks ago. “Aaron doesn’t choose to have a girlfriend. He could have a famous girlfriend.”
Murray laughed about that, saying he “dates around here and there,” but it’s hard to do that during a season.
“I’m definitely, especially my last season, just extremely focused,” he said. “I want to go out with a bang and put all my energy into the season. No messing around this year. This is my last chance. There’s no `Oh, we’ve got one more year, two more years.’ This is it.”
Murray spent spring break in Oklahoma working on his game.
“Definitely a lot more calm and chill than walking around Georgia,” said Murray, who spent three hours signing autographs last week at the Countdown to Kickoff event in Athens.
Murray said his time of having fun away from football like regular college students has cut way back. Richt called him a “365-day-a-year quarterback” who organizes the team in summer workouts.
“I’m an old man now,” said Murray, who turns 23 in November. “I’ve had three of four years of enjoying college. I try to stay away from all that stuff nowadays anyways.”
McCarron, for his part, sounded like the anti-Manziel on Thursday.
“I don’t want to be remembered as a guy who did off-the-wall kind of stuff and all this crazy stuff,” he said. “That’s not me. … My job is to play football and not be a celebrity off the field.”
He said he made limited appearances this season, throwing out a first pitch at a minor league game in his hometown of Mobile and driving the pace car at a NASCAR race at Talladega.
Murray has helped lead Georgia to back-to-back trips to the SEC title game and threw for a school record last year with 3,893 passing yards and 36 touchdowns. He needs 20 touchdown passes this season to overtake Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel of Florida for the SEC career mark and 1,438 passing yards to surpass former Georgia quarterback David Greene’s record. He also will have the completion record with 200 more.
So which quarterback is the best in the SEC?
“You’ve got to say A.J. McCarron, he’s a two-time national champion,” said South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw when asked to take himself out of the equation. “He’s a winner. That’s what you have to take account for. This league is full of great quarterbacks. Aaron Murray has proven himself. I say A.J. McCarron because he’s got two rings on his finger under him, but yeah, it’s loaded with talent.”
Murray said the SEC this year has a “very, very deep group of quarterbacks,” mentioning LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace also.
“It says a lot,” he said. “Usually when you think of the SEC, you think of a great running game and great defense. Rarely, do you think of great quarterbacks, but we’re pretty loaded right now.”
Former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah, now with the NFL Network, lists Manziel the nation’s No. 22 overall prospect and McCarron No. 26 but did not have Murray on his list of 50.
“At the end of the day if I was voting (All-SEC), I’d put Aaron up there,” Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch said. “I’m not just saying that. He just has do so much and it’s such a complex offense that I think he’ll probably be the best pro out of all of them.”