Is Plant QB Aaron Murray a paragon of virtue, or a devil in disguise?

After narrowing his college choices to Georgia and Florida, Plant High junior quarterback Aaron Murray decides to go with the Bulldogs.

MICHAEL LANGSTON | Special to the Times

After narrowing his college choices to Georgia and Florida, Plant High junior quarterback Aaron Murray decides to go with the Bulldogs.

TAMPA — The perfect kid with the perfect right arm stood at a podium on a perfect day as his perfect family with perfect smiles watched him make what will ultimately be, of course, the perfect decision by picking the University of Georgia.

He then laid out a pretty cogent plan to end the mortgage crisis, unveiled a five-point process for peace in the Middle East and surprised everyone by revealing he was living a double life as a super delegate.

That Aaron Murray is something else, isn't he? Turns out, he is something else.

While Plant High football coach Bob Weiner has carefully crafted and polished an image for his star junior quarterback, his effusive praise of Murray, both for throwing touchdowns and walking little old ladies across the street, sometimes simultaneously, rang hollow.

To be fair, the coach swears he has tried to find chinks in his star's armor, but failed. But has he really looked, really dug deep into Murray's past? Well, some of us did, and we found a disturbing portrait of a kid who isn't really that perfect at all.

Did you know, for example, that Murray has never beaten older brother Josh at anything but lied to a reporter once and claimed he had?

"I would admit it if he did, but it never happened,'' Josh said.

"I lied,'' said the embarrassed star of the day.

Do you still trust Aaron Murray?

Did you know that Josh had to sit between Aaron and little sister Stephanie on family car rides?

"We used to fight when we were kids,'' said poor Stephanie, 22 months younger and still healing from reopened wounds.

"When we got older, he always got the front seat … now, he gets to drive,'' she said.

Oh, and how about this: Aaron Murray almost ruined Thanksgiving one year. Yes. Thanksgiving.

The Murrays were on their way to a relative's house in, of all places, Georgia, when Turkey Day nearly unraveled thanks to Aaron's shenanigans.

"Dad almost turned the car around,'' he confessed under intense questioning. Chances are, though Aaron wouldn't cop to it, Dad was nearly made to pull off to the side of the road to come back there.

This is your hero?

Let's not even get into the time he stood in front of the refrigerator with the door open for a good 30 seconds (global warm much, superstar?).

Or that Aaron has to line up to the left on the golf course because his slice is horrible. "I lost 18 balls once,'' he said, surely holding up golfers who had paid good money to enjoy their day.

Maybe all that "favorite kid" stuff is going to his head.

"Yeah, he's definitely the favorite,'' Stephanie says, adding that whenever Aaron is asked to do something by his parents, he does it right away. "Me and Josh usually have to be told a few times.''

Some people might call that driving a wedge between family members. You want this guy as a teammate, Bulldogs?

But here's the grossest example of Aaron's rough past, which his parents would rather keep buried:

His grandfather, Bob Murray, who has attended every one of Aaron's games no matter the sport, told his "favorite story of all time'' about his grandson.

When Aaron was a kid, Bob picked him up from elementary school and took him golfing. But no, that wasn't enough for Aaron. He wanted to play basketball afterward, too. Didn't get home until 5 p.m. Later told his mom, Lauren, that was the best day of his life, and word got back to Bob.

How was Bob supposed to feel when that "best day of my life" was replaced by Thursday's college announcement?

We cornered Aaron, who smiled to hide his discomfort.

"Well, that's still the best day of my life.''

What?

"I bought him a picture frame about two weeks after that.''

Sure, but …

"It said 'My Best Friend' on it.''

Yeah, but …

"Has a picture of Aaron in it, and he's missing his front tooth,'' Bob said.

Oh.

Well, that's just perfect.

John C. Cotey can be reached at (813) 909-4612, or johncotey@gmail.com.

>>FAST FACTS

By the numbers

51 Touchdown passes by Aaron Murray as a junior, breaking teammate Robert Marve's state record of 48.

61.09 Completion percentage as a junior (201 for 329).

4,013 Passing yards as a junior, third highest in state history behind Marve (2006) and Tim Tebow (2005).

Is Plant QB Aaron Murray a paragon of virtue, or a devil in disguise? 04/24/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 28, 2008 4:48pm]

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