PHOTO: USA Today Sports
For the last four years, the Georgia Bulldogs have had one constant with Aaron Murray as their quarterback. The fans have been able to watch him grow into a leader and one of college football's premier players throughout his record setting career. With Murray's season ending injury last week, the Bulldogs are now facing an unknown but familiar situation as red-shirt junior Hutson Mason will take over the reigns for the Georgia Bulldogs.
At Georgia, Mark Richt has recruited very well at the quarterback position and it has created a couple of other situations similar to this one. DJ Shockley sat behind David Greene for four years before finally getting his shot. Joe Cox did the same thing as he waited patiently for Matthew Stafford to turn pro. Now it's Hutson Mason's turn as he takes over for Murray after watching from the sidelines.
Who is Hutson Mason? Mason was an under-the-radar recruit who really picked up steam towards the end of his senior season. As a junior at Lassiter High School in Marietta, Georgia he threw for over 3,700 yards but his best offers were from Georgia Southern, UAB, EMU and WMU. According to AJC beat writer, Chip Towers he almost committed to play football at Iowa but they pulled his offer the summer before his senior season. As a senior, Mason threw for 4,522 yards and 55 TD and the offers finally started to come in.
Mason finally got some love from schools like FSU, Mississippi State and Virginia but he decided to stay in-state after getting an offer from Georgia, who originally had decided not to take a QB in this recruiting class because they had Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger from the previous recruiting class. In late December of 2009, Mason committed to Georgia. In April of 2010, Mettenberger was kicked off the Georgia team.
As the primary back-up for Georgia during his tenure, it was tough for Mason to sit behind Aaron Murray and watch and wait. In this era of college football, many young college quarterbacks decide to transfer if they are beaten out for a job or are not the starter. Mason mulled over this decision during two off-seasons, both times having conversations with Mark Richt, before deciding that Georgia was the right place for him. After taking a red-shirt season in 2012 to put a year between him and Murray, Mason became the heir apparent and the waiting truly began. It was expected that Mason would take over the reigns for one year in 2014 with a short window to take Georgia to a Championship and prove his worth to the NFL.
With Murray's injury that window becomes a little larger and it could be a blessing in disguise for Georgia. While you never want to wish injury on a player, and it's a horrible ending to a fantastic career for Murray, the Murray injury does give Mason a chance to get acclimated to being the starting QB before Georgia's critical season opener in 2014 against Clemson.
What does Mason bring to the table? Because of their time at Georgia together, Mason will always be compared with Aaron Murray but he's a different player. Mason is more of a prototypical looking QB, standing 6'3". Mason comes from a Texas Tech like spread offense in High School but he's been in Georgia's pro-style system now for four years so he's a balanced QB in terms of what system he can run. Coming out of HS, Scout.com called him an accurate QB who makes good decisions and has great touch.
A look at Mason's limited stats at Georgia
How does Mason feel about this opportunity? Mason is grateful for the opportunity and he thinks the reps he got last week against Kentucky will help him this week in his first start against in-state rival Georgia Tech. Mason talks a lot about his preparation and feels that he is ready for this opportunity. He realizes he only has a limited time to make his mark and his legacy.
How will the offense change with Mason at the helm? Richt feels that the offense won't change much because of the balance that Georgia has with Todd Gurley and with a deep receiving corps (which has had injuries but is back to full health besides Malcolm Mitchell, Justin Scott-Wesley and Jay Rome who are out for the season). It's Mason's job to get the ball to his play-makers (Gurley, Michael Bennett, Chris Conley, Arthur Lynch, Rantavious Wooten).
Hutson Mason has big shoes to fill and watching him over the next 14, 15, 16 or 17 games will be one of the most intriguing stories in college football.