One of the biggest story lines in all of sports on Thursday (somehow) was the fact that Texas A&M quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel did not make the preseason All-SEC 1st-team. For our purposes, however, we will concentrate on the player who “replaced” Manziel on the 1st-team, and that is Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.
Murray is the elder statesman among SEC quarterbacks as he enters his 4th season at the helm for the Bulldogs, and he has been nothing short of fantastic. Last season, he became the first QB in SEC history to throw for 3,000 yards in 3 straight campaigns, and short of injury, he will extend that mark to 4 years in 2013. However, Murray did fall well short of Manziel in a statistical comparison, as “Johnny Football” accumulated over 5,000 yards from scrimmage and 47 touchdowns versus just 3,893 passing yards for Murray with 39 total touchdowns.
Joining Murray on the 1st team for Georgia is running back Todd Gurley and tight end Arthur Lynch. Gurley was one of the biggest/best surprises in all of college football last year, as he ran for 1,385 yards (on only 222 carries) and 17 touchdowns as a freshman. Lynch didn’t have quite the same impact as Gurley in 2012, but as a junior, he caught 24 passes for 431 yards and 3 touchdowns.
On the whole, Georgia was second to only Alabama in the number of total selections to the 1st/2nd/3rd teams in the preseason. The Bulldogs have 8 representatives in total, and while the Crimson Tide blow everyone out of the water with a staggering 16 players, that is likely a product of last year’s national title.
It is going to be an extremely interesting season for Murray, Gurley, and the Bulldogs. There is legitimate buzz surrounding Murray as a darkhorse Heisman candidate, and while the merits of choosing Murray over Manziel in a preseason poll can be debated for days (I personally believe it is “punishment” for Manziel’s off-field issues, but I digress), the questions dissipate if you consider only the worthiness of Murray’s candidacy. As the season approaches, it is a fun time to be a UGA supporter, and no Bulldog fan should take the safety that they have at the quarterback position for granted.