Georgia great Aaron Murray explains why he wanted to commit to UCLA, but ultimately didn't
Instead of red and black, what if Aaron Murray spent his college career wearing UCLA’s blue and gold?
Murray was the 19th-ranked prospect in the Class of 2009 and the second-ranked dual-threat quarterback. He signed with Georgia and, after a redshirt year, took over as the face of the program for the next four years.
The Tampa, Florida, native threw for 13,166 yards and 121 career touchdowns as a quarterback for the Bulldogs. He posted four straight 3,000-yard seasons and threw a combined 71 touchdown passes during the 2011 and 2012 seasons (his redshirt sophomore and redshirt junior years). Over the course of his playing career, UGA went 36-18.
At the same time over on the West Coast, UCLA was closing out the Rick Neuheisel era.
Neuheisel was fired on Nov. 28, 2011. The Bruins finished 6-8 that season, just a two-win improvement over the previous season. Neuheisel struggled. In four years at the school, he posted a 21-28 record. Things might have been different, though, if he’d landed Murray.
As Murray recalls it, he nearly did.
“To me, (Rick Neuheisel) won the battle. I was ready to commit to UCLA. I was done,” Murray said on the latest episode of The Saturday Down South Podcast. “(Neuheisel) as a lot of people know, was one of the most charismatic guys you could meet. We went out to UCLA, he picked us up and we went straight to the Rose Bowl first. It was my dad, myself, and Coach Neuheisel, we’re at the 50-yard line, we’re looking around and it’s gorgeous. It’s absolutely beautiful. You have goosebumps and you’re like, ‘OK, this is awesome.’
“Then you go to campus. UCLA is one of the most beautiful campuses in America, right there in the middle of Beverly Hills. And after that visit, I told my dad, ‘I’m ready to commit. Sign me up. I wanna be a Bruin. I wanna live in LA. I wanna play in the Rose Bowl.’”
But, as Murray explained, there was a massive disadvantage that UCLA had working against it—campus was thousands of miles away from where his parents lived in Tampa.
“It was really my dad who screwed it up. My dad was like, ‘Hey, you commit, we’ll maybe make 4 or 5 of your games. We cannot physically get on a plane and travel out to LA every single week just to watch you play. It’s gonna be a lot. It’s very taxing,’” Murray said. “So he was kinda my buzzkill. He ruined the opportunity for me to go out there and live that LA dream.
“But obviously everything worked out extremely well going to Georgia and staying in the SEC.”
For Murray, certainly. What might have been for the Bruins?