August 24, 2010

Murray, Charles hope magic continues

The first time Orson Charles met Aaron Murray the two were on opposite sides of the field.

Charles remembers the day well.

"The first time I met Aaron we were having a 7-on-7 tournament," said Charles, who began his high school career at Riverview (Fla.) High before transferring to be with Murray at Plant. "They were whipping us and I was like, 'I've got to play with them.'"

The way Charles puts it, that was about the time he started putting a bug in Murray's ear, telling him he intended to join him at Plant for his senior year.

Murray said Charles always did stand out in a crowd.

"I remember the first time we played them, I noticed they had these two humongous receivers, him and this other kid. I had met them earlier, but I remembered (Orson) because he had some huge calves," Murray said. "I guess he got my number somehow. He called me and said 'Hey, I'm the big receiver from Riverview' and I said which one? There are two of you. He said I'm the one with the big calves and I said ok, I know which one you're talking about now."

According to Murray, he actually tried to convince Charles to transfer after his sophomore year but he didn't due to a promise he made to his former coach.

But Charles wasn't about to let his senior year go by without making the switch.

"When I saw him celebrate after his team scored a touchdown, having fun, jumping up and down, making everybody look stupid on the field, I told myself that's the school I want to go to," Charles said. "They'll be playing for a championship and that's where I want to be."

Right now, both Murray and Charles are right where they both want to be.

Almost four years have passed since that first 7-on-7 competition, and in just 11 days the two best friends will be on the field leading Georgia into their season-opener against Louisiana-Lafayette.

For Murray, it will mark his first collegiate start while Charles will be looking to improve on a first season which saw him earn a spot on several Freshman All-America Teams.

"It's exciting, just because of his work ethic, because I try to work really hard and he pushes me, whether it's in the weight room or he might say 'hey, let's go throw some balls, work on routes, come work with me," Murray said. "We're just really comfortable working with each other now. He knows what I'm looking for and I know what he's looking for. He's a special kind of tight end; someone whose going to create some huge mismatches."

There was one example of that during a recent workout at the team's Woodruff Practice Facility.

The Bulldogs were running a pass skel and Murray rolled out before the defense pressure. The play broke down, but somehow Charles was able to get behind the secondary and Murray got him the ball for a touchdown.

"I don't know if I would have been sacked or not, but when we were in high school, everytime I was in trouble it seemed like Orson would make a big play for me," Murray said. "He's always been good about coming back for the ball, knowing when to show me his number."

Both players know the expectations that surround them are high.

As a senior, Charles caught 75 passes from Murray for 1,440 yards and 21 touchdowns. Granted, nobody is predicting those kinds of numbers on the collegiate level, but Murray sees no reason Charles won't make a memorable impact.

"You see Orson now and he's a man-child. He was like that too in high school, just a physically gifted kid. He had never really worked out before but he was just an athlete, but he was just raw," Murray said. "We knew if we got him on our team with the coaching staff we had, we could transform him into something special. He really worked hard, the coaches did a great job and 75 catches and 20 touchdowns later, it was a huge jump from his sophomore to his senior year."

Charles believes he's ready for whatever challenge lies ahead. His comfort level is definitely different than it was a season ago.

"Oh by far," Charles said. "This year, I know the playbook. Last year they were just feeding me little bits and pieces. Now that I understand the playbook, we're going to be able to go out there and have some fun."

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