Why did it have to end like this?
Aaron Murray was supposed to lead the Georgia Bulldogs to new heights in his senior season. He was supposed to be among the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy. The Bulldogs were supposed to contend for an SEC title, and Murray was supposed to go down in college football history as one of the greatest signal-callers of all time.
But the agony on Murray's face as he was helped off the field with a torn ACL in Saturday's win over Kentucky said it all.
The Bulldogs, who were ranked No. 5 in the preseason AP Poll, are in the midst of a four-loss season that has seen Georgia fall out of relevancy. There will be no SEC title for Georgia, and Murray will not be in New York City when the Heisman Trophy is given out.
It started with a season-opening loss to the Clemson Tigers, a 38-35 heartbreaker that saw Murray and Tigers star Tajh Boyd go toe-to-toe with one another.
Murray and Co. gained some momentum after that loss, though, winning four straight games including a 41-30 outing against then-No. 6 South Carolina and a thrilling 44-41 win over LSU, which was also ranked No. 6. It looked like the Bulldogs were back on track to be a part of the national title conversation.
But three losses over the team's next five games, including an upset loss to Vanderbilt and a shocking loss to Auburn that ended with Nick Marshall's 73-yard touchdown heave that was tipped up by a Georgia defender, derailed the Bulldogs' season.
Then against Kentucky, in a game where Murray had already passed for four touchdowns in the first half, he went down with a torn ACL.
Murray didn't want it to end, though, much like he didn't want his college career to end last year when he decided to return to Georgia for his senior season.
So, according to The Telegraph, Murray stayed in the game for 13 more plays, pushing through a torn ACL and passing for one last touchdown before the pain became too much.
"We were trying to take him out, but he just refused," Georgia head coach Mark Richt said. "I think he kinda knew. Well he knew something happened, he didn't know what. He's a competitor, he wanted to play."
With Murray's career at Georgia all but over, his legacy comes into question. Yes, he never won an SEC title. He'll never know what it's like to be in NYC for the Heisman Trophy presentation.
However, the records speak for themselves. There's no debate that Murray is the most decorated quarterback—at least statistically—in SEC history. He is the conference's all-time leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns and total yards. He's also the only quarterback in SEC history to pass for 3,000 yards in four seasons.
Even the losses can't be placed on Murray this season. His worst outing was against Vanderbilt, a matchup that saw Georgia take a 13-point lead and get away from the pass game.
In Georgia's losses, the Bulldogs defense has given up an average of over 430 total yards and given up at least 31 points.
|Aaron Murray's Average Boxscore in Losses|
|Comp%||Passing Yards||Total TDs||QB Rating|
That still isn't enough for some people, though.
After Murray tore his ACL, DawgSports.com reported that fans from Georgia Tech were celebrating Murray's injury. That's the Internet for you, and you get what you get from rival fans who would be too cowardly to say anything they type in person.
But there's no excuse for the actions of Georgia fans last year who egged Murray's house after a loss to South Carolina. What made matters worse in that incident was that after the loss, Murray learned from his parents that his father had cancer.
Murray doesn't deserve to go the way of former Georgia quarterback David Greene, whose SEC passing yards record was broken by Murray this season.
Despite leaving the Bulldogs as the winningest quarterback in Division I history (a record later broken by Texas' Colt McCoy), Greene only won one SEC title. He also never played in a regular-season game in the NFL and all but fell off football's radar.
Murray deserves more. His NFL draft stock is hard to determine with his knee injury, but NFL.com says he could be a "middle-to-late round steal."
The fact of the matter is, though, that Murray is the best passer in SEC history. He outperformed Tim Tebow, one of college football's most successful players in history, in that department. And Tebow got more than his fair share of chances in the NFL and continues to stay relevant.
Murray should go down not only as the best quarterback to ever step foot on Georgia's field but as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play college football.