ATHENS, Ga. — Aaron Murray had something to prove Wednesday.
Only 141 days after the quarterback underwent surgery for a torn ACL, Murray provided a fresh reminder that he still knows how to throw the ball around.
During Georgia’s Pro Day, Murray completed 48 of 54 scripted passes on a breezy day at the practice fields.
“Hopefully after today, we’ll start hearing some more noise,” Murray said. “Just showing to everyone that I’m ready to go.”
The 6-foot-½, 204-pound Murray and 14 other former Georgia players worked out before representatives of 23 NFL teams. The NFL Draft is May 8-10.
The Atlanta Falcons were represented by scout Billy Devaney, the former St. Louis Rams general manager.
Six teams had asked Murray for private workouts, visits or both before Wednesday.
“I think I’ve shown everyone they don’t have to worry about my injury,” Murray said. “It’s not going to stop me from being able to compete this year. Now it’s just a matter of what teams like me and what teams don’t and who’s willing to draft me.”
Gus Bradley, of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was the only head coach in attendance. The Jaguars had seven total from the organization on hand, including offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch and quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo.
The Jaguars staff coached at the Senior Bowl, where Murray spent a few days around the South team, even though he wasn’t playing.
“We have, as much as you can, a good feel for his personality, his competitiveness,” Bradley said. “That’s off the charts. Then to see how fast he came back and how he’s doing it and the drills that he did, very impressive. ... The big thing was to see how he’s progressed through that injury and how he’s come back. If nothing else, it shows how competitive he is. To come back from an injury like that, I think it just reassured us of what we thought we already knew.”
Murray said he had no hesitation making his throws, running and cutting before an audience for the first time since he injured his left knee against Kentucky Nov. 23. It cut short the college career of the Southeastern Conference’s leader in passing yards and touchdown passes.
Georgia coach Mark Richt visited Murray in the hospital the day after the surgery, not expecting the quarterback would progress as quickly as he did.
“I think the big thing for Aaron was to kind of show everybody he’s healthy, and I thought he did that,” Richt said. “Obviously he can throw the football, and they’ve seen all that on tape. But since the injury, no one’s really seen him do much, and if he didn’t have that knee brace on, I don’t think anybody would have thought anything had happened to him. He moved well. There was no hesitation. There was no flinching. Changing direction, dropping back, stepping up, firing the football – I thought he did a good job today.”
Thee quarterbacks coaches – Wade Wilson (Dallas) , Zac Taylor (Miami) and Frank Cignetti (St. Louis) –were present.
Murray’s parents, sister and girlfriend watched along with former Georgia players A.J. Green, Shawn Williams, David Greene and Dennis Roland.
Terry Shea, who worked with former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford before his NFL combine, ran Murray’s throwing session.
“It was a very ambitious script, in my opinion, because we moved him around so much,” Shea said. “That was paramount because we wanted to demonstrate his health, that he’s 100 percent healthy, and I believe he obviously answered those questions.”
Murray threw mostly to receivers Rantavious Wooten, Rhett McGowan, tight end Arthur Lynch and running back Brandon Harton and took snaps from Chris Burnette.
“I had a blast,” Murray said. “It’s officially now my last time throwing on this field, really.”
Added Lynch: “I think Aaron did a good job. Obviously there were some drops out there, but I thought all the balls were on the money. For a guy who had surgery four months ago, he showed that his knee was strong and he didn’t lose any athleticism. If anything, he probably got stronger. He’s in really good shape. I think Aaron proved to everyone that he needed to prove and the future’s bright for him.”
It wasn’t quite the frozen tundra of Green Bay, but the day began with a freeze warning. It climbed into the 50s while Murray was throwing in the late morning.
It should be a much smaller draft class for the Bulldogs than last year when eight players were taken, including four in the top 84 led by first-round draft picks Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree.
No Georgia player is listed in the NFL Network’s top five players by position.
That includes Murray, who was the No. 9 quarterback by former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah’s list on the NFL Network before Wednesday.
The consensus top tier of quarterbacks from ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Mayock and Jeremiah includes Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, UCF’s Blake Bortles, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Fresno State’s Derek Carr and Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo.
Murray said he will be home in Tampa for the draft. Between now and then, he’ll return to Indianapolis for a medical check on the knee.
“The biggest question mark for me was, ‘When am I going to be healthy?’” Murray said. “That’s what today was for mostly, to show these teams that I’m healthy and I’m ready to go.”