Mettenberger and Murray Start QB Journey

ATHENS – Aaron Murray made the short trip from his hometown of Tampa up the road to Orlando for Georgia's bowl practices last month. It was during a dead period for recruiting, so the Bulldogs' staff couldn't have contact with him, but wide receiver Tony Wilson stepped in to play the role of host.

Murray, who is one of three early enrollees at Georgia this spring, watched practice with Wilson, who was recovering from an ankle injury, and managed to impress his soon-to-be teammate with his knowledge of the offense.

"I had a script, showed him the plays, and then I was really surprised that he knew the packages that they came out in," Wilson said.

While Wilson may have pegged Murray as a quick learner, the freshman quarterback isn't ready to accept the praise without some significant qualifiers.

Murray and fellow freshman quarterback Zach Mettenberger have been on campus for three weeks, and while they're already making strides in their assimilation process, the playbook is far from memorized.

"I'm still struggling," Murray said. "In high school you have cover one, cover two, maybe a couple blitzes, but there's about a hundred different kinds of defenses a team can throw at you, especially in the SEC."

It's not just football that has made life at Georgia a whirlwind so far.

Like many of the players, Murray got a moped to make his way around campus, but said he has to pull over every few minutes to pull out his campus map and figure out where he's going.

That isn't as much of an issue for Mettenberger, who grew up just down the road in Watkinsville. He's a lifelong Georgia fan and his familiarity with the campus has earned him the nickname "Mapquest" from Murray and fellow early enrollee Dallas Lee.

His proximity to home has also allowed Mettenberger a few more creature comforts on campus, too. Both he and Lee, who is from Buford, make frequent trips home for a warm mom-made meal, leaving Murray to fend for himself. And although the three are all sharing living quarters, Murray said he's tasked with doing most of the cleaning, too.

"They never clean up their dishes," Murray said. "I hate walking in and dishes and trash everywhere. I'm a real neat freak, so I'm always cleaning up after him, doing the dishes, going in the bathroom and cleaning up."

In the film room and the weight room, however, Mettenberger and Murray are in the same boat – both feeling like outsiders struggling to find their way.

The extra few months of education they're getting by enrolling early, however, means the two quarterbacks will be ahead of schedule once the real practices begin in August, and that was an opportunity to good to pass up.

"Especially for a quarterback, you want to come in and learn the playbook as fast as you can," Mettenberger said. "When I heard Aaron was going to enroll early, I was like, ‘Shoot, I can't wait another semester and let him get ahead of me.' So we both enrolled early looking to just be closer knit with the team when all the other freshmen come in and just learn the playbook."

Learning the playbook has been a full-time job for the two freshmen thus far.

Senior quarterback Joe Cox said he has been impressed by how devoted both have been to memorizing the plays and said each showed signs of immediate progress during the team's first seven-on-seven drills Tuesday.

"They're both really smart kids and they've been in their playbooks a lot," Cox said. "They're definitely picking up on it faster than I would have expected, and I think they're going to be in good shape once spring ball rolls around."

Cox's confidence is nice to hear, Murray said, but the past few weeks have nevertheless seemed like a blur. But that was to be expected.

Murray said he hopes to have the playbook memorized by the summer, but in the meantime he's just trying to be a sponge, picking up everything he can from Cox and his fellow teammates.

"My goal is just to learn as much as I can," Murray said. "I'm just going to kill them with, ‘Show me this, show me that,' and just learn as much as I can, get in the weight room, work hard, and see what happens from there."


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