ATHENS - For the three seasons that Aaron Murray has been the starting quarterback, the Georgia football team has basically held its breath, praying for his health: Both the number and quality of his backups have been a major issue.
But with Murray's decision to return for his final year, the Bulldogs suddenly find themselves with a glut of signal-callers. That solves the depth problem, but it also creates another one: Keeping everyone happy.
Hutson Mason will be the main backup, and the first guy in if Murray gets hurt. Mason took a redshirt this year and will be a junior again in 2013. It was a requirement for Mason in order not to transfer. This way, he has a full season (2014) to be the man once Murray leaves.
Head coach Mark Richt said recently that Mason has "earned the right to play," but added that the question was how that was handled. Murray obviously is the starter again in 2013, and while the two aren't exactly alike, they both are basically pocket passers. So it's not like drastically different packages can be created for Mason.
Never miss a local story.
Then there's Christian LeMay, who will be a redshirt sophomore in 2013. LeMay came to Georgia as a highly-ranked recruit, but so far he has done little to engender confidence. In fact, he was passed on the depth chart this season by Parker Welch, a former walk-on.
LeMay has not indicated any plans to transfer. He could have been waiting to see what Murray did. But it also matters that his brother Uriah, a receiver, is set to sign with Georgia and join the team for next season.
In any case, LeMay has a ways to go to show the coaches that he can play in a pinch. And now he has one more player to beat on the depth chart - Mason, who was only going to play this season if Murray was seriously hurt. LeMay and Welch only played in mop-up duty.
Now that brings us to Brice Ramsey, a four-star recruit (according to the 247sports.com composite ranking) who has enrolled early. Ramsey will be with the team in spring practice, and his addition to the mix complicates matters, but in a good way for Georgia: Ramsey will likely redshirt in 2013, but if the situation got dire he could at least be serviceable. Either way, Ramsey's aim is to be the quarterback of the future, as in once Murray (and probably Mason) are gone.
Finally, one shouldn't neglect Faton Bauta, who redshirted this season. Bauta has the build of a player who could play another position - tight end, fullback, even linebacker - but Richt has insisted Bauta will stay at quarterback. Richt also praised the way Bauta played on scout team this year. Now that he's used his redshirt year, it's a fair assumption that Bauta will be a candidate for the third-string spot - behind Murray and Mason, but right there with LeMay, Welch and even Ramsey.
Too many candidates for the third string quarterback spot. Georgia hasn't had that problem in more than three years.