ORLANDO, Fla. — Between bowl practices in Athens and here at Celebration High School near Disney World, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray got a chance for some down time back home in Tampa.
He stayed sharp by throwing some passes back at his old stomping grounds, Plant High School, and watched plenty of films of a different sort, including the just released Judd Apatow comedy “This is 40.”
“That was a great movie, hilarious, my parents loved it,” Murray said. “I think every night we watched a movie just at the house. Just chilling. We had a good time.”
The redshirt junior also spoke some with his parents about his future as he weighs whether to return for his senior season or enter the NFL draft.
“We sat down a little bit and talked about it,” Murray said of about a 10-minute discussion. “It was mostly my parents doing the pros and cons. I’m just sitting there watching TV as they talked about it. We talked about it a little bit, but I told them I mostly want to focus on this game and talk about it more when I get home after the game.”
While Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron made a quick decision to return for his senior season, Murray said he still wants to put some more time between the 32-28 SEC title game loss to the Crimson Tide and making his decision.
He also wants to discuss it more with Georgia coach Mark Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo after Tuesday’s Capital One Bowl against Nebraska.
Coaches usually spend plenty of time in the lead-up to a bowl game talking about what the next step in a player’s development might be, but Bobo begged off doing that with the media on Murray and declined to discuss any conversations the two have had about the NFL.
“Right now I want to see him finish off strong this year and get a bowl victory, something that he hasn’t done and our team hasn’t done in two years,” Bobo said.
Murray completed 20 of 32 passes for 288 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions and a lost fumble in a 33-30 triple-overtime loss to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl last season and was 21 of 38 for 198 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions in a 10-6 loss to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl in 2010. He was sacked a combined seven times in the two games.
“Both of them were tough,” Murray said. “The first one we had a chance at the end of the game to drive down the field and score. We didn’t do that. The other one the triple-overtime loss definitely stunk. Both of them were pretty tough. I’m just hoping to get a win so we finally get a bowl win, finish the season off with a win and have a great offseason from there.”
A comment like that might sound like Murray plans to be a part of leading that offseason for Georgia.
Tight end Arthur Lynch, Murray’s roommate, hasn’t changed his view that Murray is likely to return.
“If I could guess, I would say he wants to stay,” Lynch said.
Lynch said he thinks Murray’s projection from the NFL underclassman advisory committee on where he might go in the draft will be a factor. Murray said he’s still waiting on that.
If Murray returned to Georgia, he’s on pace to set SEC career records for completions, passing yards and touchdown passes. He currently has 678 completions, 9,664 passing yards and 90 touchdown passes.
“Playing against him the last few years at Tennessee, Murray’s been able to make some big-time throws,” said Nebraska secondary coach Terry Joseph, who spent the previous two years on the Volunteers’ staff. “You watch him on film, as you watch throughout the season, you really appreciate the ability that the guys has. … He’s always in control. The guy’s been starting for quite some time. He’s a veteran and he doesn’t get rattled a lot.”
The last time Georgia played in the Capital One Bowl at the end of the 2008 season its quarterback got questions about the NFL, too.
Michigan State reporters quizzed Matthew Stafford about his thoughts of possibly playing for the Detroit Lions.
Stafford became the No. 1 overall pick when he was indeed drafted by the Lions. He was a slam dunk to go.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Murray isn’t.
ESPN analyst and former quarterback Brock Huard, a third-round pick out of Washington in 1999, said on the air that he could make a compelling case for Murray to enter the draft but that he would like to see how good he can be with another season with an offense that will have Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall returning at tailback, an improved offensive line and Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Conley and Michael Bennett at receiver.
Huard mentioned Murray improving his completion percentage from 59.1 to 65.4 percent under Bobo from his sophomore to junior seasons.
“I think he could be a 70 percent passer,” Huard said. “I think there’s still room to grow. With everybody coming back around him, those NFL guys will look at South Carolina, they’ll look at Florida, they’ll look at Alabama, they’ll look at those big moments and I still think there’s some resume building that Aaron can do.”
Richt said of Murray, completing his third year as the starter: “There’s not a whole lot he can develop really other than just continuing to play well and make good decisions.”
And, he later added, “continuing to lead and try to help get our team in a position to play in these championship games and win them.”
Murray has a pair of SEC East titles, but no conference championship yet.
“When we talk about pros and cons of coming back or leaving, I think that’s definitely a huge pro of coming back,” Murray said. “I’ve always wanted to base my game off championships.”
Murray said his parents have strong opinions about what he should do, but didn’t want to share that.
“They can only give me advice,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s up to me.”