HOOVER, Ala. — Aaron Murray's time has arrived, and his coach and teammates at Georgia believe he's more than ready for the challenge.
The Plant High graduate will enter fall practice in two weeks as the Bulldogs' starting quarterback, and how well the redshirt freshman performs will go a long way in determining whether Georgia proves many pundits wrong this season.
"Aaron Murray came in as a midyear enrollee, he's been through a spring, went through a season, went through last spring," coach Mark Richt said. "He understands our system well. You can get him in the meeting room, get him on the board, ask him anything. He'll tell you the answer, get it right. But we've got to be careful, Coach (Mike) Bobo and myself, not to get enamored with that and expect him to be able to answer the question quite so well as he's on the field getting chased by a bunch of 300-pound defensive linemen."
His teammates praise his maturity and work ethic.
"Over this summer Aaron was always working," junior receiver A.J. Green said. "He always texts me 'Come out and let's throw,' get that chemistry down, work on some routes that I have trouble running or he has trouble throwing. Aaron is that guy. … He's a leader. As young as he is, I really look up to him, the way he carries himself on and off the field."
UF STRIPS SCHOLARSHIP: Frankie Hammond, a Florida receiver who was arrested on June 13 on DUI charges, has been stripped of his scholarship, coach Urban Meyer said. The redshirt sophomore, 20, had been suspended since his arrest. Last week he was sentenced to probation and fined as part of a plea deal in his case.
There is a chance he could still play on a probationary status.
"He's off scholarship," Meyer said. "If he tries to come back and play, which I understand he will, he'll have to pay his own way and earn a spot like any other member that would like to be a part of Florida football. He'll be on probation like other players that have made mistakes."
STEALING THE SHOW: Vanderbilt interim coach Robbie Caldwell was the star of Thursday's media days. If this head coaching thing doesn't work out, Caldwell could easily find work as a standup comedian.
From his opening remarks, the Pageland, S.C., native had the room roaring with laughter, beginning with his arrival home after the abrupt announcement July 14 that coach Bobby Johnson was retiring. Caldwell said he's so unknown, he held the door for a man at a restaurant in Birmingham on Wednesday and was handed a tip.
Caldwell, an assistant for 32 years including stints at Furman, N.C. State and Vanderbilt, spoke humbly of his upbringing and the head coaching opportunity. "This is the greatest thrill of my life other than my child being born," he said.
Caldwell said athletic officials have given him no stipulations about the job, nor any promises about whether he'll be retained after the season. The Commodores are coming off a 2-10 season, 0-8 in conference play.
"I told my wife if it's two days or 20 years, I will be able to say, 'Hey, I was a head coach one time,' other than in 1977 when I was head baseball coach."
Asked if he had been welcomed by other head coaches at media days, Caldwell said: "Not a one. No offense to them, but they have no idea who I am."
SANDERS' FATE: South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier confirmed that the NCAA is investigating whether TE Weslye Saunders was among the growing list of players being questioned about attending a party in South Beach that was allegedly thrown by an agent.
"All I know is what all of you fellas know, or the world knows now," Spurrier said. "He went with several players on a trip to Miami, I think during spring break. I guess the question is who paid for it. Who paid for what they did while they were there? When the investigation is finished, I guess we'll find out about all the guys. I've talked to him briefly. He told me he's done nothing wrong. We'll let it play out."