Perhaps no team has a bigger void to fill than Georgia.
With apologies to Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney, the Bulldogs leaned on quarterback Aaron Murray as much as any team has leaned on any player in recent SEC history.
Murray, the Chiefs’ fifth-round selection in the NFL Draft two months ago, left Georgia as the SEC all-time leader in passing yards (13,166), completions (921), touchdown passes (121) and total offense (13,562).
Murray, who tore his ACL late in his senior season, is the only quarterback in SEC history to throw for more than 3,000 yards in four seasons.
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“Aaron was obviously a great player, a great leader, just a great person,” Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said. “When you lose a guy like that, it can be tough.”
Still, Georgia realizes nobody will feel sorry for them without Murray.
“Aaron’s been around for a long time and done everything the right way,” wide receiver Chris Conley said. “That’s all you can ask a coach and all you can ask as a teammate. Seeing Aaron go, we’re happy for him, because he’s getting to take the next step in his life, but we can’t sulk. We’ve got to move forward and play some football.”
Linebacker Ramik Wilson added, “Aaron will be missed, but it’s a new team and a new year.”
Fifth-year senior Hutson Mason steps in for Murray as Georgia’s starting quarterback.
“Nobody’s going to be an Aaron Murray … but I believe in (Mason) and the whole team believes in him,” running back Todd Gurley said. “This team is going to be his team.”
It’s simply a fact of life in college football. The best players eventually move on.
“Not to say we don’t miss Aaron, because we do,” Richt said. “But it was time for him to go. That’s just college athletics. After four seasons, you’re out of here. We wish him well. We wish his brother (Josh) well on ‘The Bachelorette,’ by the way.”