Until Lauren Murray gets to town Labor Day weekend, Aaron Murray's biggest advocate will be his brother Josh, who will line up against him in practice this fall. Josh won't be allowed to tackle Aaron -- nobody will have that opportunity except Saturday's opponents -- but the elder Murray will use his stealth as a defensive back to try to make a pick against the Bulldog quarterback.
Just for fun.
Practice field rivalry is the only time there will be an adversarial relationship between the Tampa natives who demonstrate a classic example of brotherly love. Josh, who is six years older than Aaron, will wax long and effusively about his younger brother.
"He always has been the hardest worker on the team," Josh says.
Then he is off and running. "You won't believe how dedicated he is," Josh continues his praise. "He's selfless, he puts pressure on himself to produce for the team -- not for himself -- but for the Georgia Bulldogs. His greatest passion and dream is to bring a championship to this campus."
Pausing to catch his breath, Josh grins broadly and regains the momentum.
"He is an exceptional leader, and the best example of his leadership came when he broke his ankle in high school (at Jesuit High). He missed a half season of games, but he never missed a practice. Aaron never got down. He hobbled around at practice, encouraging the team. He kept the players' spirits up, and the fact that he was out there every day working with a broken ankle increased the team's respect. Before the season ended, he got well, returned to the lineup and led his team to the state championship. He wants to coach, and I think the seeds were planted when he hurt his ankle in high school and worked with the team while he was injured. He is consumed by football."
The Murrays come from an athletic family. Josh was born In Syracuse, N.Y., when his father, Dennis, was playing minor league baseball for the Blue Jays. The matriarch of the family, Lauren, ran track in college and was a cheerleader. Josh played five years in the Milwaukee Brewers organization, and the youngest, Stephanie, plays all sports and is a straight-A student. She wants a career in business, and, like her brothers, is an overachiever.
"Don't forget about Orson Charles," Josh grins. "He always hung out at our house. He is like a brother. We consider him a member of the family."
Pick-up games were always taking place in the cul-de-sac in front of their home. There was a hard-and-fast rule -- they had to stay off the neighbors' grass. This meant that when someone took a spill, they ended up on asphalt. The significance of that, Josh says, is that Aaron learned to play hurt.
"He's pretty tough," Josh said.
When the Murrays were not playing "bust your rear but not on the neighbor's grass," they could be found on Sundays at the Tampa Bay Bucs' games.
"We had season tickets, and we watched what the players were doing on the field. Aaron really studied the quarterbacks," Josh remembered. "We also had fun when the Devil Rays got into the World Series and we got to see a World Series game. We are all family-oriented, we love sports and we have a good time together."
This is Josh's final year of eligibility. When he signed with the Brewers, he took classes in the offseason with plans to earn a college degree. His enterprise actually worked against him, costing him eligibility in football. Realizing that the major leagues were not in his baseball future, he decided to enroll at Georgia, play a year of football and complete degree requirements.
"There was more," he said. "I wanted to be on the same team with my brother. I want a close-up view of him leading our Georgia team to success. He is a special talent, and I really believe in him. Bulldog fans will too."