Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray has turned his attention to the 2014 NFL draft, though he will miss most of the steps along the way.
Murray is recovering from the torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in the 59-17 rout of Kentucky on Nov. 16. The upbeat 6-foot-1, 208-pounder met Friday morning with reporters in Athens for the first time since the injury and said his road to recovery is off to a good start.
"It's going extremely well right now," Murray said in a news conference. "I've really been getting after rehab pretty much all day long. I'm already in the weight room lifting again, and my goal is to be back by pro day."
Georgia usually schedules pro day for its NFL prospects in March, but next year's draft has been pushed from April to May, which allows colleges the option of pushing their showcases back as well. Murray hopes to be able to drop back and roll out for scouts, and he isn't ruling out running the 40-yard dash.
The Senior Bowl in January and the NFL combine in February are out for Murray, and one scouting director for an NFL team believes that could work in his favor.
"I don't think he was going to do well in the combine because he's an average athlete with average arm strength," the scouting director said. "His production in college is undeniable, but he's short, and I don't think the combine would have helped him at all."
Murray finished his career as the Southeastern Conference's all-time leader in passing yards (13,166), total yards (13,562), completions (921) and touchdown passes (121). The Tampa, Fla., resident became the first quarterback in league history to throw for more than 3,000 yards all four seasons, and he was named this week as the SEC's scholar-athlete of the year.
In his final season, Murray completed 225 of 347 passes (64.8 percent) for 3,075 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and he ranks 13th nationally in efficiency. He tallied those numbers without tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall for sizable chunks of the season, as well as receivers Michael Bennett, Chris Conley, Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley.
"I think his senior year solidified what you thought of him," said the scouting director, who projects Murray going in the third round. "When he lost Gurley and Marshall, I think he became more of an average-type quarterback. You saw him in games where he tried to pull wins out when they were coming from behind. He's a battler and a tough guy, and he was a really good college quarterback.
"There is a lot of production there, but for the most part he's a backup quarterback in the NFL. He could be a good No. 2 at some point in his career, and he may get a shot some day at being a No. 1, but he's not a franchise type of quarterback. He's the kind who needs good players around him in order to be successful."
Murray said he heard and felt his knee pop against Kentucky and that he felt sorry for himself for about "20 or 30 minutes" before asking when he could undergo surgery. He was unable to attend Georgia's 41-34 win at Georgia Tech in double overtime on Nov. 30, but he did watch video of that game several hours later with new Bulldogs starting quarterback Hutson Mason.
The game at Georgia Tech was the first time Murray was not on the sideline since he came to Georgia in 2009, but he will be on the sideline with other former players on New Year's Day when the Bulldogs face Nebraska in the Gator Bowl.
"I'm pretty much like an alum now," Murray said.
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