Monday's Outback Bowl will be the first and perhaps only time Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray will play a college game in his hometown -- Tampa, Fla.
The matchup against Michigan State is also the next opportunity for the 6-foot-1, 211-pound redshirt sophomore to continue his assault on the Southeastern Conference's two most prominent career passing records. With a second season that has produced 2,861 yards and a school-record 33 touchdowns, Murray is in solid shape to become the league's all-time leader in yardage and scores.
"It's been a lot better this year, because we've won games," Murray said. "I'm all about the wins, but it is cool to see those kinds of stats. The most important stat right now is to become the ninth team in UGA history to have 11 wins."
After redshirting in 2009, Murray had a promising freshman year that featured 3,049 yards and 24 touchdowns. He has 5,910 career yards entering the bowl, which is more than halfway to the league mark of 11,528 compiled by former Bulldogs quarterback David Greene from 2001 to '04.
Greene also redshirted before starting the '01 opener, and he and Murray became close before the start of last season. Georgia coach Mark Richt said last December that the biggest difference between the two QBs was Greene's 42-10 career mark, but Murray started enhancing his this season by leading the Bulldogs to a 10-3 record and the SEC East title.
"I think Aaron has gotten to the point where I don't think anyone ever questions his toughness mentally or physically," Richt said. "No one ever questions his preparation. No one questions his loyalty to the team, and I think everybody responds well to him when things get rough.
"He is so well-prepared and he creates such good habits in practice that even if he has an off day or an off quarter or a bad throw here and there, he can't help but get back in pretty good shape."
With 57 touchdown tosses, Murray is halfway to the 114 Danny Wuerffel threw at Florida from 1993 to '96. Should Murray throw for 33 scores as a junior, he would move past the 89 Peyton Manning amassed at Tennessee (1994-97) and into second all-time in the SEC.
The totals Wuerffel and Manning tallied did not include bowl games, not that Murray has any recollection of their college playing days, anyway. He was 6 years old when Wuerffel won the Heisman Trophy and 7 when Manning finished second in the voting.
"I wasn't a huge Florida fan, but I went to a couple of Florida camps growing up, so I did get to meet Danny Wuerffel, because he was a counselor," Murray said.
Greene holds Georgia's career mark for touchdown passes with 72.
The biggest deterrent to Murray breaking these records would be if he elected to forgo his senior season and enter the 2013 NFL draft. He admits he doesn't know what the future will hold, but playing all four years in Athens could lead to some needed updates in the SEC record books.
"Aaron is a humble guy and really doesn't care about individual things," tight end and fellow Tampa resident Orson Charles said. "He just cares about winning, so he doesn't talk about it at all. It is pretty neat, though, growing up with him and realizing he can break all these records."
Said receiver Tavarres King: "If anybody deserves it, it would be Aaron. He's always watching film. Hopefully we can go out and get it for him. The kid deserves it. He really does."
Odds and ends
The Bulldogs worked out for two hours Thursday in shoulder pads and shorts. ... Junior safety Bacarri Rambo told reporters he received a third-round grade from the NFL's Draft Advisory Board and that he remains "50-50" on his decision. ... Senior cornerback Brandon Boykin said he has received an invitation to the Senior Bowl. ... Redshirt sophomore linebacker Jarvis Jones on his roommate, junior nose John Jenkins: "I shouldn't be telling anybody, but he's coming back." ... The Bulldogs will practice this morning and spend the afternoon at Clearwater Beach.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...