ATHENS - Normally when a player has yet to see the field by this point of the season that means he will definitely redshirt. Hutson Mason, however, isn't in a normal situation.
The junior quarterback is still hoping this season ends with him not playing, and thus saving a year of eligibility. But it's not a certainty as long as Georgia is still pursuing an SEC (or national) championship. If something were to happen to Aaron Murray, the next man up would still be Mason, who has yet to play a snap this season but remains a firm No. 2, ahead of Parker Welch or Christian LeMay.
Mason said the plan goes like this:
"I had a conversation with coach (Mike) Bobo this week, and as of right now if Murray was to go down in the Auburn game I'd be going in," Mason said, referring to his offensive coordinator. "It being this late in the season it's basically just a week by week thing. And we're just kind of taking it from there. But I do know I spoke with coach Bobo, and I'm preparing as if I'm the No. 2 guy this week.
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"I think what they'll do is if Murray goes down, somebody else will go in first, and they'll get a prognosis of how serious Murray's injury is. And then if it is really serious then I'll probably go in from there."
Mason agreed that the way this has been handled has actually helped him not to feel like he's taken a year off. That not only puts him in better position if he is rushed into duty in 2012, but in 2013 and beyond.
"It's weird because I'm redshirting, but I'm getting so many reps. It has helped me get a lot better," Mason said. "I try and compete every day, and try to show the coaches if Murray leaves next year that I want to be the guy. And I try to take every rep for every snap to prove to them to show to them that I'm reliable and dependable. Not for only this year but for the years to come."
Murray hasn't been asked about his plans for next year. The prevailing assumption is that he's likely to come back, since he's not being projected right now as a first-round pick. But Mason thinks it's still an open question.
"Yeah, I do. I mean," he said. "I think there's still a lot to be determined. As late as it is, it's still pretty early."