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Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray: It's not about me

It's not as if Aaron Murray rushed out to the nearest mega bookstore in search of all the preseason college football magazines he could find, but he is acutely aware of the preseason hype he's receiving.

One year removed from a freshman season in which he threw for 3,049 yards, the former Plant High star is officially the SEC's projected breakout star, the player coaches and media have chosen as the conference's marquee quarterback.

"I don't worry about that," Murray said. "I'm pretty blessed to have a tremendous group of guys around me. It's a team game and all the individual accolades and acknowledgements, that's cool. But in the end, it's those guys that are around me that help me do what I do in order to help this team win."

Through the course of his tour of media at last week's SEC Media Days, that was the sentiment Murray kept expressing: it's not about me, it's about the team. Coach Mark Richt said that attitude makes Murray uniquely qualified to lead Georgia's resurgence.

"Aaron, he's really a coach's dream in how he approaches the game," said Richt, who begins his 11th season at Georgia and has coached quarterbacks who include 2009 No. 1 NFL draft pick Matthew Stafford and two Heisman winners when Richt was an FSU assistant — Charlie Ward in 1993 and Chris Weinke in 2000.

"He understands preparation. He understands team. His motivation is for Georgia to win. His motivation is to see his teammates have success. His motivation is not to promote self. When you have a guy like that, it just makes your life a whole lot easier."

The praise and preseason accolades are nothing new for Murray, 20. He arrived in Athens as a Parade magazine and U.S. Army All-American, and was rated the No. 3 quarterback in the nation by Scout.com and Rivals.com.

Like all newcomers, there was a learning curve. Georgia finished 6-7, its first losing season since 1996. Murray learned talent alone isn't enough.

"That's why we've been working so hard in the offseason," he said. "We feel like if we could go back and change 10 plays last year, maybe even less, we could have been a 10-win team."

Murray's confidence and work ethic have endeared him to teammates.

"I would say Murray is a heck of a worker," senior center Ben Jones said. "I'm glad he's on my team. He's always in the weight room, working out, watching film. He's definitely the best prepared out of any quarterback in the SEC. You can see his leadership role grow."

Murray will try to revive Georgia without 11 starters, including receiver A.J. Green and tailback Washaun Ealey, but he believes the returning players and a top-five recruiting class will help fill the void.

Georgia doesn't have time to waste. The Bulldogs open the season in Atlanta against Boise State then host South Carolina in what many believe are must-win games. Murray welcomes the challenge.

"To go 6-7 adds motivation, and throw on top of that you're playing the team that's won the most games in the past three or four years," Murray said. "We're excited. It's a great way to put us back on the map. We feel like a lot of people are worried about Georgia too much after the last couple of years. We're ready to show the nation we're still a great team, we have great talent and we're ready to compete for some championships."

Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com.

Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray: It's not about me 07/26/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 11:18pm]
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