Despite all the drama over whether or not Aaron Murray would return for his senior season, the quarterback conceded Tuesday he's actually known for quite some time what that decision would be.
"As soon as that clock hit zero at the Georgia Dome (at the SEC Championship) I had pretty much decided, but I knew I had to settle down and not let emotions take over," Murray said. "I just had to go through the process, talk it over with my parents, relax and think it over, but at that moment I pretty much knew."
Still, Murray said he did his due diligence before Tweeting out Sunday night that he indeed was going to return.
That included conversations with former NFL head coach and current NBC broadcaster Tony Dungy, along with former quarterback Archie Manning last week last week during a trip to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.
"We didn't talk about things I needed to improve, really," Murray said of his conversations with Dungy. "We talked about reasons to stay, like you only get a chance to be in college once in your life, that it's a time to enjoy being the starting quarterback for an SEC school and there is room for improvement. But the biggest thing was to follow your heart and have no regrets."
Murray insists he has absolutely none.
"I felt if I decided to leave I'd have the regret of what might have happened if I had stayed one more year and didn't want to do that. I really wanted to give it one more go-around," Murray said. "I trust him (Dungy) a lot. He's been through it all. He's well-respected by everyone and I don't think you can find a person who has anything bad to say about Coach Dungy so it was great talking to him."
Murray said he enjoyed picking Manning's brain as well.
"I spoke to him about it. When talked about what Eli and Peyton did when they made their decision about staying or coming back, so it was great advice," Murray said. "He told me the same thing; that I just had to follow my heart and live with no regrets."
Murray said he also spoke extensively with head coach Mark Richt and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, not just about his decision but what he can do to improve.
Apparently, there are a number of things.
"The biggest area is my mobility. When I first got here I think I tried to stress too much about being a pocket passer and staying in the pocket, make my reads and go 1-2-3," Murray said. "There's nothing wrong with that. I need to still work on my progressions and trust my line. But I need to work more on when things do break down and I see ahead of time that a play is not going to work that I need to get up in the pocket and get as many yards as I can."
By coming back, Murray will have an opportunity to etch his name into the SEC record books as well, including the chance to leave Athens as the top passer in SEC history.
Murray, who has thrown for 10,091 yards, needs just 1,438 yards to pass David Greene (11,528) for the most ever and 20 touchdown passes to break Danny Wuerffel's mark for career touchdown passes which currently stands at 114.
This past year, Murray completed 249 of 386 passes for 3,893 yards and 36 touchdowns.
"Obviously it would be cool to have those records but since I've been here I've wanted to base my time on winning championships," he said. "If I could accomplish all of that in one yet that would be great but my first goal and only goal is to win an SEC Championship and win a National Championship next year."
Knowing his Bulldogs came up just short to Alabama at the Georgia Dome32-28, watching the Crimson Tide win their third title in four years wasn't easy to do.
"It was painful to watch, it was," Murray said. "I was happy the SEC won and I guess it showed the nation how good we were, to play Alabama like we did, four, five-yards away from being in that game," Murray said. "So it definitely helped us and I guess showed the nation that we are back, that Georgia's back, that we're someone you need to worry about every week and we'll be a team - hopefully in the Top 10 or Top 5 heading into season and go from there."
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