ATHENS, Ga. -- After one of the most impressive careers in Southeastern Conference history, Aaron Murray is beginning to say farewell to his playing days at the University of Georgia.
Murray completed his Bulldog career as the SEC leader in passing yards [13,166], touchdown passes , total offense [13,562 yards] and completions . He is also the first quarterback in conference history to pass for 3,000 yards in four consecutive seasons.
The Tampa, Fla., native is three weeks removed from a season ending left ACL injury and is already progressing with his rehab as he looks to the next chapter of his life and the 2014 NFL Draft.
After going 18-for-23 for 183 yards and four TD's, Murray was finally felled after playing two series with a torn ACL, including his fourth touchdown throw. Despite the potential for self-pity with his collegiate ending in such a painful manner, Murray told the media Friday morning that his focus quickly switched to getting healthy.
"I've always been a guy that figures out what's wrong, what needs to be corrected, and get's after it. Obviously I got in the locker room and was pretty emotional when the doctors told me. I got a little emotional, my parents came in there, my coaches came in there, and pretty much 20 or 30 minutes later we were siting there and I said 'alright, what's the next step.' We were at the hospital until one o'clock in the morning, came back to the Butts-Mehre building, talked to Ron (Courson, Sr. Associate Athletic Director for Sports Medicine) for a while, came back in the morning and we scheduled surgery for two days later," Murray said. "I felt sorry for myself for about 20-30 minutes at the stadium and then it's on to the next thing to get better."
The injury occurred on a second half scramble as the senior quarterback cut inside a defender on a 28-yard run. While Murray's mental and physical toughness allowed him to return to the field, he said the diagnosis came as no surprise.
"I felt and heard the pop. I could walk and do certain movements on it so I thought I was just going to stick it out as long as I could," he said. "Luckily there was no other ligament damage; it was just an isolated ACL, that's why I was able to have surgery pretty fast. I probably should have come out just to be careful but you're going to have to drag me out of there before I come out."
With the assistance of Courson and the rest of Georgia's sports medicine team, Murray said the rehabilitation is going well. He has already set his sights on being able to prove his health to NFL teams at Georgia's pro-day in April by performing a full range of drills including rollouts.
Looking back on the season, the four-year starter who equaled David Greene's Georgia record of starts by a non-kicker (52), said while it didn't live up to the high expectations the Bulldogs set out for themselves, the experience was a positive one.
"I've never been a part of a season where we had this many injuries in one season, especially to so many key players. Even at the beginning of the year Malcolm Mitchell tears his ACL celebrating a touchdown for goodness sakes, that's just how our season went," he said. "It's been a crazy season with all the injuries, hail Mary's, every game pretty much going down to the last quarter. It's been a fun season, every game has been fun; we've had some huge wins, some of the biggest wins I've been a part of since I've been here in South Carolina and LSU. Overall it's been a fun season and I've enjoyed it. People always ask do I regret not leaving last year and I have absolutely no regrets. I feel like I have personally improved this year as a player and it's been fun being with my teammates and my coaches."
Murray has left a last mark on the Bulldogs for his statistical performances but also for his work off the field and away from the spotlight. In the last week alone Murray was named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was presented with a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award which comes with $18,000 towards post-gradate work, in New York City. Some of the proceeds of his first professional engagement will go to benefit Extra Special People, a charity Murray has worked tirelessly for during his time in Athens.
The contributions of Aaron Murray to Georgia Athletics, the University of Georgia and the Athens community are immeasurable and his work will be felt for years to come. Murray's work, however, comes from a place of love for the community and institution. Something he didn't think would blossom as it has when he arrived on campus in January 2009.
"I love Georgia, I really thoroughly love this place. I knew I loved Georgia when I committed with the coaches, the campus, the tradition but just being here for five years it's engraved itself deep in my heart now and I know I'll be a Bulldog forever."
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