Going into last year, the quarterback position was considered the biggest weakness on the team. Much maligned quarterback Joe Cox had graduated leaving junior Logan Gray, a player who had spent more time at receiver and punt returner than quarterback for Georgia, and a pair of redshirt freshmen: Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray, as the only candidates for the job.
It was a heated three person battle all spring until Zach Mettenberger put on a show at the annual G-Day game. Mettenberger, at 6’5″ resembled former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford as he threw for 150 yards and two touchdowns on just ten passes. However, Mettenberger was kicked off the team just a week later for sexual battery.
Gray eventually made the official move to wide receiver leaving redshirt freshman Aaron Murray as the only candidate for the starting spot. Murray made the most of this opportunity by putting together one of the best statistical seasons in Georgia football history.
How good was his season last year? Well lets compare it against two great college quarterbacks: previously mentioned Matthew Stafford and Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. Murray had a higher passer efficiency rating that Stafford as a redshirt junior and Luck had when he was a redshirt freshman. Murray threw for the 2nd most yards (3,049) by a freshman in SEC history, behind only former Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen (3,687).
Murray will continue to be a strength for Georgia for the next three seasons and could easily develop into one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. With his height (only 6’1″) don’t expect NFL scouts to be in love with him enough for him to leave early.
Murray’s backup, Hutson Mason, is already in elite company. Mason is one of only two quarterbacks in NCAA history to ever throw a touchdown on his first career pass.
Mason was a superstar high school quarterback at nearby Lassiter High School, throwing for 4,560 yards and 54 touchdowns, both new state records (broken the year after by Collins Hill quarterback Taylor Heinicke). Mason completed 313 of 432 passes (72.3 percent) and only threw 10 interceptions. Despite these jaw dropping stats, he had no scholarship offers from any big-time BCS schools until he threw for a new Georgia High School single-game passing record 552-yard, eight touchdown performance against South Gwinnett in the second round of the playoffs. Georgia and many other schools offered after this game and he committed to Georgia saying he is “all dawg, baby!”
Mason played only in limited time last year, but connected on nine of his seventeen throws for 102 yards. Mason, however, did look very good in this years annual G-Day game throwing for 109 yards.
The final quarterback is without a doubt one of the most intriguing players on Georgia this year: Christian LeMay. LeMay was at one point the top rated quarterback by nearly every recruiting service out there. He was a dominant force at Butler High School in North Carolina. His junior year he threw for 44 touchdowns with only 2 interceptions.
ESPN said of him, “LeMay is about as fundamentally smooth a quarterback as you will find in this class. There are very few prospects at the quarterback position that possess the quick, compact and fluid delivery he has and this is something that cannot be coached.”
However, before his senior season, he was suspended for nearly the entire season for breaking the school’s code of conduct. The school announced it was nothing criminal, and it is highly speculated that he was caught having sex with a classmate on the school’s premises. Rather than stay in school, and not be able to play, LeMay decided to graduate early and enroll in a quarterback academy. He worked every day with a renowned quarterback coach to further improve and enrolled early at Georgia. Despite this, his recruiting stock plummeted and he finished as the 5th best quarterback according to ESPNU and the 100th best player.
However, this is the same player that once upon a time was considered to be one of the top players in the class. Expect LeMay to redshirt this season so he can be a redshirt sophomore when Murray graduates, and he will be poised to be the starter.
Its crazy how a position that just a year ago that had no experience what-so-ever is now loaded with potential and one of the better players in the nation.