ATHENS — Through all this debate, and amid all this angst about Georgia’s quarterback situation, one keeps coming back to a few prophetic words uttered two years ago. They were spoken by Mike Bobo, who was referencing Aaron Murray.
“Personally I think he’s taken for granted,” Bobo said after another game in which Murray threw for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for another. “Georgia needs to realize it’s a blessing to have Aaron Murray and how much he means.”
It’s pretty safe to say Georgia realizes it now.
Maybe as this season goes on the quarterback situation will settle down. Greyson Lambert, or perhaps Brice Ramsey in relief, very well might lead Georgia to a division title. Or at least not get in the way.
But at this point a program used to dependable play from its quarterback – David Greene, D.J. Shockley, Matt Stafford, Murray and, yes, Hutson Mason — must be asking itself: How did it arrive at this current muddle?
The answer: Georgia, spoiled from years of deft recruiting and handling of quarterbacks, is like everybody else. At least this year.
“Quarterback recruiting is not a science. NFL teams miss every year,” said Rusty Mansell, a recruiting analyst for Dawgs247, who has followed each of Georgia’s quarterbacks from high school to college.
Bobo and head coach Mark Richt, both former college quarterbacks, seemed to have it all worked out. They got four great years out of Murray, then would use Mason as a bridge to, it was assumed, the Ramsey era.
Perhaps Bobo’s departure for Colorado State ruined the plan. Maybe Bobo would have rolled with Ramsey if he stayed, and Brian Schottenheimer’s new set of eyes changed everything.
But there were signs that Ramsey wasn’t a sure thing: He played in a wing-T offense in high school, and only started his final two years. So the amount of throws he made in real games wasn’t very high. Still, he made a name for himself at numerous recruiting camps, showing off his quick release and power arm.
Ramsey isn’t a lost cause by any means. He’s only a redshirt sophomore. But at minimum Georgia imported Virginia’s quarterback and has ended up starting him at least half the season. That wasn’t supposed to be the plan.
It’s also more than just Ramsey. Here’s the list of Georgia’s recent quarterback signees, the ones who would be eligible right now, and what happened to them:
- 2011: Christian LeMay, a consensus four-star prospect, transferred after the 2013 season after failing to ever be higher than third on the depth chart.
- 2012: Faton Bauta, a three-star prospect who many analysts pegged as a linebacker or tight end. He’s actually developed into a good leader in practice, but arm strength limitations have him third on the depth chart.
- 2013: Ramsey, another consensus four-star prospect, who was also pursued by Alabama, among others.
- 2014: Jacob Park, yet another four-star and South Carolina’s Mr. Football. He redshirted last year, then transferred this summer after being third on the depth chart.
- 2015: No quarterback was signed.
Did Georgia miss on anyone over the past five years? The one quarterback that Georgia pursued hard but didn’t get was Deshaun Watson, the Gainesville native who is now Clemson’s starter. Watson committed to Clemson as a sophomore, but Bobo tried to flip him and spent a lot of time with him. The two sat alone together through a Georgia basketball game in January of 2014.
“Georgia did take a very good shot at him,” Mansell said.
Luckily for Georgia, it has Jacob Eason set to arrive in January. Eason is one of the nation’s top prospects, and given the state of things has a chance to play right away.
“The table was set pretty good when I got here, obviously, with the young man that’s gonna be coming here,” Schottenheimer said this week. “With me it’s focus on the guys we’ve got. I’ve played with Mark Sanchez, and we were fortunate enough to get to an AFC championship game with him as a rookie. He had a few games where he threw five interceptions. That’s gonna happen with young players.
“But the big thing for us is Greyson’s gotten better today. He’s focused on Tennessee. Can’t look back at Alabama, just like he couldn’t look back at Vandy. He didn’t play very well against Vandy. He bounced back in a big way against South Carolina, and we expect him to do the same thing this week. We have some talented guys. We just have to play more consistent.”
That didn’t used to be an issue around here. And maybe it will only prove to be a brief flip. For now, though, Bobo’s words ring painfully true.