MIAMI - Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray announced Sunday night via Twitter that he would be returning for his senior season, but he reached his decision much earlier.
How much earlier?
"As soon as that clock hit zero and I was in the locker room after the SEC championship game, I had pretty much decided then and there," Murray said Tuesday. "I knew I had to settle down and not let the emotions take over too much, but pretty much at that moment I knew I was coming back."
Murray added that the 45-31 Capital One Bowl win over Nebraska helped "clear his head" following the heartbreaking 32-28 loss to Alabama a month earlier in the Georgia Dome. He watched Alabama's 42-14 trampling of Notre Dame in Monday night's BCS championship with mixed emotions.
"It was painful to watch," he said, "but it showed the nation how good we were."
Murray was plenty good this past season, leading the Bulldogs to a 12-2 record and setting a single-season school mark with 36 touchdown passes. He became the first quarterback in SEC history to throw for more than 3,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.
Before announcing his intention, Murray said he visited with former Tampa Bay and Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy and former Ole Miss and New Orleans quarterback Archie Manning, whose two famous sons used all four years of eligibility in college. Murray said Manning told him to "follow your heart and leave with no regrets."
Georgia coach Mark Richt said Murray's announcement was "great for Aaron and great for Georgia."
Bulldogs backup quarterback Hutson Mason, who redshirted this past season to be a year behind Murray, told the Marietta Daily Journal that he is "frustrated" but plans to remain at Georgia.