January 27, 2009

Learning the Ropes

Now that they're roommates, it hasn't taken Aaron Murray long to learn a few of Zach Mettenberger's idiosyncrasies.

Like his penchant for housecleaning?

"He and Dallas (freshman offensive lineman and fellow roommate Dallas Lee) are disasters. Every time I walk in the dishes are stacked up and there's trash everywhere," Murray bemoaned. "I'm a neat freak and I'm always cleaning up after them. They don't do the dishes, they don't clean the bathroom. Right now I'm just trying to get them to do something every once in a while."

Mettenberger rolled his eyes.

"He's always trying to get me to clean the kitchen," the former Oconee County standout said.

Oscar Madison, meet Felix Unger.

However, unlike the fictional TV duo from the 1970s, Murray and Mettenberger at least wake up each morning sharing the same ideals and goal - to one day become the starting quarterback for the Georgia Bulldogs.

How quickly that day comes obviously remains to be seen. Fifth-year senior Joe Cox is the starter until further notice, while Logan Gray will only be a redshirt sophomore when the season rolls around next fall.

While both Murray and Mettenberger say they're content to wait their turn, each isn't wasting any time trying to pick up the system as quickly as they possibly can.

"I'm going to kill them (Cox and Gray) with show me this and show me that," Murray said. "I want to learn as much as I can, work hard, get in the weight room, get stronger and just see what happens from there."

While they may not share with the housework, both Mettenberger and Murray assist each other out plenty away from home.

"We're always helping each other out in the weight room and learning from each other," Mettenberger said. "We're both working as hard as we can."

Cox can vouch for that.

"I've been in the weight room and Zach will be there with his head buried in the playbook," Cox said. "Aaron's the same away. I've told them both I'll do whatever I can to help them out."

Although it's been suggested that one of the two freshmen will wind up redshirting, neither quarterback has any clue what offensive coordinator Mike Bobo might have in mind.

"You'll have to ask (Bobo) that," Mettenberger said. "I really have no idea."

Murray's more concerned with getting 100 percent healthy for spring drills. Although he missed most of his senior season with a dislocated ankle and broken fibula, the Tampa native returned in time for the semifinals to help lead Plant High to a state championship last month.

However, Georgia trainers aren't taking any chances.

We're not going to push it just to make sure everything's right," said Murray. "We're not taking any chances. I'm not doing a lot of running. I am doing some 7-on-7 work and participate in the drops, although my steps are a little bit slower than usual. But again, we're just going to make sure by spring that I'm 100 percent."

Both players say they're living a dream.

No stranger to the Bulldog program, Mettenberger has been forever hanging around the Georgia football offices where his mother Tammy is an administrative secretary.

But even with all the familiarity, Mettenberger admits he remained a bit antsy until he finally got the call from Bobo to give him the good news about his scholarship offer.

"I was actually in Wal-Mart buying a TV with a friend. I started jumping around and I'm sure all the people there were wondering 'What's that kid's problem?'" said Mettenberger, who was offered a scholarship from Florida State when he was just 15 years old. "I always hoped to get one so I was very excited when I finally did."

Boston College also offered Mettenberger a scholarship but his commitment to Georgia never wavered. A last-minute call from Tennessee fell on deaf ears.

Murray had different issues that he had to deal with.

Being a Florida native in heart of Gator Country, there was only one school most of his friends thought he should go.

"If you grow up on Florida you're expected to go to one of the three schools (Florida, Florida State or Miami). It was not a tough choice for me," he said. "I had friends who kept telling me I needed to go to Florida, this and that, but Georgia is where I felt more comfortable. I fell in love with Georgia, the staff sold me."

Murray said he finally made up his mind about the Bulldogs after attending last year's Spring Game in Athens, which he followed up by a visit the next week to Florida.

"For a while I would go to this place, fall in love, go to the next place and fall in love with that," Murray said. "But after I went to Georgia and Florida, on my way back I called my mom and told her I was ready to commit. She said 'Oh, you're going to Florida.' I said 'Nope, Georgia was on my mind. I knew it was the place for me.

"All over the country coaches give you all kind of promises and pressure to commit. But Coach Bobo and Coach Richt never did that. They said this is who we are and get to know us, let us get to know you and if you want to come here we'd love to have you. It was all real down to earth. I'm real happy with my decision."



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