University of Georgia Bulldogs
Plant High School
Murray has been the mainstay for the Bulldogs offense ever since he suited up for Georgia, starting each of the 52 games he appeared in. Well on his way to establishing new school, conference and NCAA records, the team got a "glimpse" of their future without Murray at the helm, and they did not like what they saw.
With Murray guiding the offense, he compiled a 35-17 record (67.31%) as their starter, including a 29-10 mark (74.36%) during his last three campaigns. He suffered a left knee anterior cruciate tear on November 23rd, 2013 while leading the Bulldogs to a 59-17 triumph over Kentucky.
The injury meant that Murray would not have an opportunity to close Georgia's season on a winning note. It meant that his dream of one day playing in the prestigious Senior Bowl would not materialize. It meant that all those long offseason months preparing for the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine would leave him as a spectator, rather than a participant when teams gathered to examine college football's elite prospects.
Still, Murray is confident he can set a new pace in recovering from a torn knee ligament and be effective throwing the ball at his pro day less than five months after the injury. He is doing everything else he can to impress NFL brass leading up to draft day. While a healthy A.J. McCarron, the Alabama quarterback and Mobile, Alabama, native declined the opportunity to attend the Senior Bowl, Murray, the Georgia quarterback who couldn't get on the field because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament, followed through with his commitment to the Senior Bowl because he viewed it very differently than McCarron.
Murray wanted the opportunity to meet with coaches and scouts that attend the Senior Bowl in droves, and embraced the chance to spend time in meeting rooms and getting used to an NFL coaching staff. His anterior cruciate tear in November notwithstanding, he feels that his recovery is on pace to challenge the timeframe for comeback established by Adrian Peterson and strived for by Robert Griffin III.
"I'm way ahead of the game. It feels great. I'm already doing some light jogging in the pool, pulling sleds, single-leg press over 600 pounds, just killing the rehab," Murray said earlier in the week in the Senior Bowl training room while sitting on a platform and convincing reporters that there was something different about his recovery. "Right now, the thought is I'll be back by pro day. It's very realistic." Murray's pro day is April 16th but he spent the Senior Bowl week showing off a confident but pleasant demeanor that should impress NFL decision-makers during interviews with teams.
A month later, Murray was in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine doing the same thing, as well as having team doctors poking and prodding at his knee and other joints that have been injured throughout his career. As "cool as ice," he has never appeared to be the least bit concerned that he would not be ready for Georgia's Pro Day. He has had his share of injuries and every time rebounded more quickly than most anticipated. He expects nothing different this time around.
"I just tell (NFL personnel) it's feeling great. I'm ahead of the game, feeling strong and I'll be ready by my pro day," Murray said. "I'm not a doctor, but I'm just telling them what they tell me. They believe I'll be ready to go, do everything. I'm not going to go out there and run a 40 because I don't think there's any need for me to run a 40 or do any 5-10-5. I'm going to start doing drop-backs and throwing in three weeks and that gives me another month-and-a-half before pro day to continue working. I'll be more than fine."
Murray states the fact that because it's his left leg, not his plant leg that is injured, his throwing shouldn't be affected at his pro day. While his surgery wasn't performed by Dr. James Andrews, renowned surgeon to the star athletes, Murray has been going through his rehabilitation at Andrews' facility in Pensacola, Florida. "When I showed up they even said, ‘We've never seen anyone six weeks out looking as good as you. I've put in a lot of work. Day in, day out, non-stop rehab, rehab, rehab. It feels great. It's healing pretty fast," he said.
"I tend to heal kind of quickly. I broke my leg in high school and dislocated my ankle. That was supposed to be a four-month injury and I was back in six weeks and played in two games. I just tend to heal faster. I tore my labrum my sophomore year of high school and came back in eight, nine months. That's supposed to be a year-plus rehab, too. I heal a little bit faster."
"I don't really swell much. I was able to have surgery three days after the injury and most people wait 10 days to a month, but I was fine because I didn't swell. I didn't swell that much post-surgery. I was on the elliptical six days after surgery. I was in the pool two weeks after surgery." Murray also saw plenty of teammates go through similar or the same process at Georgia. In every case, he said, they came through it stronger than ever and he has no reason to doubt that will be the case with him.
During his 52 starting assignments, Murray went on to set Southeastern Conference records for pass completions (921), passing yards (13,166) and touchdown passes (121). The type of offense he piloted so well at Georgia should help him make a smooth transition to the National Football League. "At Georgia, we were pretty much a pro-style offense anyway, so a lot of stuff that we were going over in the meetings right now, most of it is very similar plays to those I ran at Georgia," Murray said in Mobile at the Senior Bowl practices. "There's always a new take on something and you can always get some advice on coaches and something new. Also, you get to meet with these coaches and GMs at night. It's very beneficial."
In addition to the injury, Murray knows he will have to answer questions about his lack of prototypical quarterback size. He checked into the Senior Bowl at just over six feet tall and 201 pounds. It was the shortest of the quarterbacks at the week-long event. That's one reason he said it's important for him to work on finding passing lanes. He also wants to improve his accuracy after completing 61.5 percent of his passes at Georgia.
Still, his main obstacle to overcome, at least at this time, is proving he will be healthy enough to work at an NFL training camp. All he has to do is point to Marlon Brown, one of his receivers at Georgia who left a year before Murray and had anterior cruciate ligament surgery a year before him. "He was an undrafted free agent (in 2013), got picked up by the Ravens and actually led the Ravens in touchdown receptions this year," Murray said. "I talk to him a lot and he's like, ‘You'll be fine, come back stronger than ever.' We've had a lot of guys tear ACLs and all of them have come back stronger than before and better than ever, so I'm feeling very confident."
Before starring at the University of Georgia, Murray was a highly-sought after quarterback during his playing days at Plant High School. Many of the recruiters to visit (was offered 53 scholarships from other schools before committing to Georgia) Murray during his prep days felt that he was one of the most complete quarterbacks in the 2009 recruiting class.
While he lacked the size of a true pocket passer, he understands positioning within the pocket and has uncanny awareness. Even in high school, he showed that he had excellent feet and could slide to open throwing lanes, thus negating the height issue.
Recruiters also saw a quarterback who makes great decisions and cuts zones to pieces. He has always had very good arm strength and unbelievable touch. Where he is most dangerous is when he gets on the edge, something his high school coach, Robert Weiner, got to enjoy weekly. During his junior season, the All-State first-team selection and recipient of the state of Florida's "Mr. Football" Award completed 201-of-329 passes (61.09%) for 4,013 yards, 51 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He also scored 12 times on 93 carries for 932 yards en route to setting county touchdown records.
As a senior, Murray only played in eight games due to a broken leg he received in October, but the star quarterback returned in time to lead his team through the semi-final playoff victory that gave them their subsequent Class 4A title win over Lincoln, although visibly still in pain. He was named Hillsborough co-Offensive Player of the Year along with team-mate and favorite target, wide receiver Orson Charles, who would later star for Georgia as a tight end.
Murray was named All-Suncoast first-team after throwing for 1,927 yards with 33 touchdowns vs. four interceptions, adding 357 yards and two scores rushing. The Class 4A Player of the Year was also a finalist for the Florida Mr. Football Award he had won the previous season. He was also named to the 2008 Parade All-American, Orlando Sentinel All-Southern Top 12 Players, Press Register Super Southeast 120, Florida Sportswriters Association All-State first-team and ESPNU Top 150 squads.
Murray also received All-American accolades from Parade, U.S. Army, Super Prep and Prep Star, as he added Super Prep All-Dixie and Prep Star Top 100 Dream Team honors. He was chosen the MVP at the EA Sports Elite 11 Camp, as Scout.com rated him the third-best quarterback in the nation, fourth-best prospect in Florida, eight-best overall in the South and 21st in the nation. He would close out his career setting the Hillsborough County record for most passing touchdowns (84).
Murray fended off the "recruiting hounds" when he signed his national letter-of-intent to attend the University of Georgia on April 24th, 2008, having been lured to the university by former UGA passing legend, Mike Bobo. He spent the 2009 season guiding the Bulldogs scout team, earning a spot on the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll. With Joe Cox having graduated, Murray won the starting quarterback position for 2010.
Murray had a banner first season as the starter, earning Freshman All-American honors while being named to the coaches' Freshman All-SEC squad. The team's Newcomer of the Year and Most Valuable Offensive Player completed 209-of-342 throws (61.11%) for 3,049 yards, 24 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. His passing yardage set a school freshman record and was the second-best season output ever by an SEC freshman, along with being the second-highest total by a major college freshman for the 2010 schedule (Troy's Corey Robinson gained 3,726).
The 2011 season saw Murray again be named the team's Most Valuable Offensive Player, as the first-team All-SEC and Academic Honor Roll recipient went over the 3,000-yard level again, connecting on 238-of-403 chances (59.1%) for 3,149 yards. He threw for a then season-record 35 touchdowns vs. 14 interceptions and score twice on the ground. He added CoSIDA Academic All-District accolades and was the winner of the Coaches Leadership Award.
Numerous post-season honors came Murray's way during his junior season, as he was named the team's Most Valuable Offensive Player for the third consecutive year, adding Vince Dooley Most Valuable Player of the Year Award and the Leon Farmer Award for dedication to the strength and conditioning program, among other accolades. He set new school season-records for yards passing (3,893, as that total 11th in the major college ranks for 2012), touchdown passes (36) and total offense yards (3,825). He hit on 249-of-386 throws (64.5%) and had just 10 of his attempts picked off. He also ran for three scores. He ranked second in the nation with a 174.82 passing efficiency rating and guided an offense that ranked 19th in the nation in scoring, averaging 37.79 points per game.
Murray was named a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and a semi-finalist for both the Davey O'Brien Award and Maxwell Award as a senior. The Academic All-American was having another fine season before suffering his knee injury in the second quarter of the Bulldogs' 11th game, vs. Kentucky. He finished with 225-of-347 passes for 3,075 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He ranked 12th in the nation with a 158.8 passing efficiency rating and ranked second in the league with an average of 296.5 yards per game in total offense.
Murray closed out his career owning 27 school records and four Southeastern Conference marks. He afforded the team a model of consistency under center. In fact, when he was injured, it marked just the third time in his 13 years as the Bulldogs' head coach that Mark Richt had to replace his starting quarterback in the lineup.
In addition to setting the Southeastern career-records for passing yardage, completions, touchdown tosses and total offense, he is the only quarterback in league and school annals to have four consecutive 3,000-yard passing seasons. There only have been four others in NCAA history to do it in four seasons: Timmy Chang, Hawaii (2000, '02-04); Kellen Moore, Boise State (2008-11); Landry Jones, Oklahoma (2009-12) and Corey Robinson, Troy (2010-2013).
Murray also holds the rare distinction of being just one of four Bulldogs quarterbacks to start four seasons at the university since Georgia began playing organized football in 1892. The other four-year starters were; David Greene (52 starts; 2001-04), Johnny Rauch (45 starts; 1945-48) and Eric Zeier (41 starts; 1991-94).
Athletics was not the only area that Murray excelled in. An outstanding student, he had already graduated in 2011 with a degree in Psychology after posting a 3.3 grade point average and spent the last two seasons working towards another degree. He made the school's Academic Honor Roll five times, was twice selected an Academic All-American and became the 13th Bulldog in history to receive the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award and its $18,000 post-graduate scholarship.
Murray holds the rare distinction of having started every collegiate game he played in (52), as he became the first player in Southeastern Conference and school history to throw for over 3,000 yards in four consecutive seasons…Completed 921-of-1,478 passes (62.31%) for 13,166 yards, 121 touchdowns and 41 interceptions…Scored 16 times on 286 carries that netted 396 yards (1.38 ypc)…On 1,764 plays, he registered 13,562 yards in total offense and was responsible for 137 touchdowns.