Murray chose to forgo the NFL Draft last month to return to Georgia for his fourth and final season. If he plays like he did in his first three outings, Murray could hold nearly every school and conference passing record by this time next year. His reasoning for returning was that he felt he wasn't quite ready for the pro level and that he wanted to compete again for a championship. With quarterbacks Tyler Bray and Tyler Wilson jetting for the NFL, and Murray's seasoned experience in the nation's most physical conference, Georgia could have the best signal caller in the SEC come fall.
Though Dawg Nation might have been thrilled over Murray's return, the feelings weren't the same for some of the other Georgia quarterbacks. No one knows the agitation of waiting your turn more than Hutson Mason, who openly admitted that he was "frustrated" upon hearing Murray's announcement. Mason was one of the state's top prospects three years ago, and committed to Georgia twice –– once out of high school and again last offseason when considering a transfer. Mason ultimately chose to stay, and redshirted last season in hopes of creating separation between he and Murray. Including the upcoming season, Mason will have two years of eligibility left and no guarantees of starting during that span.
Someone Mason will have to compete with in 2014 is Parker Welch. Welch has seen minimal playing time in his two years at Georgia –– just three appearances in 2011, including G-Day –– but he has shown Richt that he has the potential to contend for the starting job in the coming years. A two-star walk-on from Jesup, Ga., Welch caught the eyes of Richt, Mike Bobo and David Greene at Dawg Night in 2009 with his pro-style approach, and has strived to prove his worth since. One of the things that could hold him back, though, like Mason, is the depth at the position. Incoming freshman Brice Ramsey won't make it any easier on the two.
Ramsey is all but assured to redshirt this season, which will give him four full years of eligibility beginning in 2014. Fans should not be shocked if he contends for –– and wins –– the starting job next year. The Camden County prodigy has the size, smarts and strength to become an elite SEC quarterback. He has drawn comparisons to former Georgia great Matthew Stafford, who shares an almost identical physique. Stafford was a little heavier coming in, but Ramsey will naturally pack on the muscle after a year with Georgia's strength and conditioning program. This four-star commit has all the potential and more to become something special for the Bulldogs, and when his time comes, other quarterbacks will have to sit back and watch.
Another guy who hopes to make some noise in the coming years is Christian LeMay, who will become a redshirt sophomore this season. LeMay garnered offers from 15 schools, including seven in the SEC, but fell in love with Georgia and enrolled in time for spring practice in 2011. LeMay was essentially Murray's backup last season with Mason redshirting, and he saw action in five games. But LeMay only made two passes all season, one of which went for a pick-six. He has the speed and elusiveness to become a dual-threat quarterback, but has struggled to climb the depth chart and contend for significant playing time. He remains, however, one of Georgia's five scholarship quarterbacks.
Another is Faton Bauta. Bauta was one of the few early enrollees last year, and eventually redshirted to no surprise. Like LeMay, Bauta has the speed and footwork to become a dual-threat quarterback, and like LeMay, he has a long way to go before contending a starter. But that doesn't mean Bauta can't be an effective weapon for the Bulldogs. After all, he was primarily utilized as a linebacker and fullback at Dwyer High in Palm Beach, Fla., and didn't play quarterback until his senior year. It shouldn't shock anyone if he moves around a few times during his tenure in Athens.
Stayed tuned each Thursday for Daniel Kramer's breakdown of the 2013 Georgia offense. Next week we tackle the running backs, a fast, but physical bunch that could be the SEC's most explosive group at the position.