ST. JOSEPH, MO. — Aaron Murray knows what it’s like to go through a quarterback competition at Georgia. He remembers it well: Every pass feels like a referendum. Every practice feels like a game. Every moment is an evaluation.
“Every time you go out there,” Murray said.
So he knows what Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta, his two former teammates at Georgia, have been going through this year, and what Greyson Lambert will experience now that he’s joined the competition.
In fact, Bauta has reached out to Murray, asking for advice.
“I told him: This is the best time,” Murray said. “You want someone there (competing) with you. It’s only going to make you better. Competition brings out the best in everyone.”
Murray spoke after a practice at Kansas City Chiefs training camp, where he’s the third-string quarterback. So he’s trying to climb the ladder himself, though in the NFL these jobs come more via chance, such as an injury.
Five years ago Murray competed with Zach Mettenberger to be Georgia’s starter. It was an intense four weeks of spring practice, as the two redshirt freshman with different skill sets – Murray offered more speed, Mettenberger more a pure pocket passer – went at it every day.
“It was fun, It was back and forth,” Murray said. “I’d make a good pass, he’d make a good pass. It was fireworks at practice, it was a lot of fun. And it pushed us.”
Murray came out of spring practice slightly ahead, then Mettenberger’s dismissal ended the competition before summer even began. Murray went on to start four seasons and break plenty of school records.
The dynamics this time are a bit different. Bauta and Lambert are both juniors, Ramsey a sophomore, and mega-recruit Jacob Eason, slated to arrive after the season, looms in the future.
Murray said he’s following the competition “a little bit” from afar, as well as in person: He trained in Atlanta for the past six weeks and saw many current players on weekends.
He’s never met Lambert, the Virginia transfer. But he was in the quarterback room with Bauta for two years, and with Ramsey for one.
“Both great kids. I think a little different quarterback-wise,” Murray said. “Brice is a very pure thrower. That’s probably one of the most beautiful releases you’ll ever see from a quarterback. From day one I was like: That man can throw a football. Good kid, works hard, smart kid.
“Faton, he’s more athletic, can run, bigger kid, can do a lot with zone option read, running, does things like when things break down being able to run. Can also make all the throws as well.”
So who will win the job? Murray said he has no idea, but thinks that with the changeover in offensive coordinators that a lot will depend on who learns the playbook quickly. Who learns the check-downs, who can put the offensive players in the best position to make plays.
When someone is crowned the starter, Murray will be able to sympathize with them as well: You may be the guy, but you’ll also have someone close behind you.
“Hutson (Mason) pushed me every day in practice, in spring, in camp and the season. I always felt his presence,” Murray said. “I felt secure in the job but I always knew he was in there trying to take my job, which is great.”
I’ll have more in the coming days from Murray, as well as the other former Georgia players in Kansas City: Justin Houston, Sanders Commings, Ramik Wilson and Chris Conley.