ATHENS -- Aaron Murray has more than 50,000 followers on Twitter, and more than a few of them alerted the Georgia quarterback to an interesting tweet on Monday.
Tony Dungy, the retired NFL head coach, wrote this in response to a Kansas City Chiefs fan who asked who his team should take with the first or second pick in Aprils draft: I would take Georgia QB Aaron Murray if he comes out.
Dungy might not be completely objective: His son Eric was one of Murrays high school teammates in Tampa, Fla., and Dungy and Murray have stayed in touch.
Plus, the key part is if he comes out, and Murray was adamant Tuesday that he wont figure that out until the end of the season.
Not that he didnt enjoy hearing what Dungy said.
That was definitely cool to hear, Murray said.
Its strange to say this, but Murrays potential leap into the NFL draft has been an under-the-radar story for Georgia, which plays its final home game on Saturday.
The team has a couple defensive stars -- Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree -- who are likely to go high in the draft if they leave. ESPNs two main draft analysts are of similar minds on Jones and Ogletree: Jones is No. 1 on the overall board by both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. Ogletree is No. 17 overall, according to McShay, and No. 20 on Kipers list.
But Murray is a harder one to figure out. His stats would say hes a prospect. But his height -- hes listed at just 6-foot-1 -- doesnt make him a surefire prospect.
Murray is rated the 52nd overall prospect for 2013 by CBSsports.com. Hes the fifth-rated quarterback, behind West Virginias Geno Smith, Southern Californias Matt Barkley, Arkansas Tyler Wilson and Florida States E.J. Manuel. All of them are seniors.
Murray did send his name in last year to the NFL draft advisory board, but he said at the time he only did so because he was curious and not serious about it.
This time, he is likely to be more serious about it.
I mean, Ive had friends and everyone ask me, Murray said. Im like, I dont know, Im not worrying about that until after the season, and then Ill sit down with my family and make the best decision for myself and for my future.
Hes not the only one.
Last year, Georgia had nearly a dozen players contemplate the jump, but, in the end, only tight end Orson Charles did. Then again, none of the defensive players who stayed was a sure first-round pick -- other than Jones, then a third-year sophomore. Jones has seemed more open to the possibility of leaving after this year.
The feeling around the program is that this time it will be a surprise if Jones, Ogletree and even nose tackle Kwame Geathers stick around. Its the cost of having a championship-caliber team.
Coach (Mark) Richt has always told us more guys get drafted on winning teams, senior linebacker Christian Robinson said. Guys leave early, and they play on winning teams. Itd be hard. I cant speak for them. If they have the opportunity to go and play and theyre at their best, I think itd be difficult. It comes down to each guy. Jarvis is just about the same, Maybe hes a little bit higher this year, but he was a first-round draft pick. He turned down a lot of money, instant money, but he backed it up. You never know. Some guys, it could be a bad thing if they got hurt. So its a tough decision to make.
Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham spent 11 years in the NFL prior to coming to Georgia in 2010. He said he talks to contacts in the NFL and get a feel for where theyre going to go. He also throws in his own thoughts. That doesnt just mean what round they might be selected.
Sometimes it might mean the number of guys at a position. The amount of talent, or lack of talent, Grantham said. And then its also (a matter) of where you might be the following year. Whats it look like for next year? Whats your growth, and what can you do to improve your stock? Because what youre looking at is your draft status, youre paid more the higher you get drafted. So, in some ways, you can earn more money by staying in school.
Is there any danger of misinformation getting in somebodys head?
Not if they listen to what Im gonna tell them, Grantham said.
Ogletree didnt want to say much when asked on Monday if this might be his final home game.
Im a Georgia Bulldog, when that time comes, Ill make that decision with my parents, Ogletree said. Wherever that goes.
Ogletree has yet to play a complete season, injured as a sophomore and suspended the first four games of this season. But his seven games so far have shown why hes a top prospect, as hes within one tackle of the team lead despite having played four games less than everyone else. Ogletree also has two sacks, an interception and 6.5 tackles for loss.
Ogletrees position coach, Kirk, Olivadotti, was an NFL assistant coach for 11 years before coming to Georgia two years ago. But he doesnt want to offer any public advice for his player. And when asked if it was just a matter of when Ogletree will be playing on Sundays, Olivadotti had a six-word response.
Hes playing on Saturday this week, he said.