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July 19, 2012
REDONDO BEACH, Calif. -- Aaron Murray has heard the height questions so many times the Georgia quarterback laughs.
It could be annoying, but Murray has proven not every quarterback needs to be 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds. He's listed at 6-foot-1 and doing just fine.
Shorter quarterbacks such as Murray have thrived in college football and a bunch of undersized recruits are here at the Elite 11 prove not everyone has to be the size of a small forward to excel at quarterback.
"You're throwing over offensive linemen, but you're finding a throwing lane and the receivers are cutting and there are so many schemes for a shorter quarterback," Murray said.
"You basically have to work on your footwork more as a shorter quarterback. All the quarterbacks work on their footwork, but I feel shorter ones have to work on it even more to find those windows and find that spot to make the throw."
Murray's father is 6-foot-3, so the quarterback, who was ranked as a four-star by Rivals, joked that he's still hoping to sprout a few inches. That hasn't stopped the former Tampa (Fla.) Plant standout from doing well in college football's toughest conference.
Oklahoma State quarterback commit Luke Del Rio, listed at 6-foot-2, is hoping size is not an issue for him in the Big 12. With a spread offense, the Denver (Colo.) Valor Christian recruit said being slightly shorter than other quarterbacks should not be an issue.
Del Rio said the whole debate about height is overdone and sometimes unnecessary. In his experience through the recruiting process, it was never an issue with coaches, but feels it is a bigger question for recruiting fans, those who break down measurements far too often and sometimes overlook moxie, toughness and skill.
"If you see 6-4, 220 it intrigues you right away especially if you can run," Del Rio said. "That's the new thing because Cam Newton has done so well in the league. Colleges want to run the spread and have a big guy that can run and not get hurt. But if you look at the elite quarterbacks in the NFL right now, it's the smart, cerebral ones.
"Aaron Rodgers is 6-2. I've seen Drew Brees before and I don't think he's even 6-foot. I'm 6-1, almost 6-2 and until you get there or 6-3 they're still questioning you about it."
The Elite 11 group has a significant number of quarterbacks who don't need to shop at Big and Tall stores.
Del Rio, Notre Dame commit Malik Zaire, Ole Miss pledge Devante Kincade and some other quarterbacks are shorter than 6-foot-3, but don't seem to have many problems proving themselves through two workouts at the Elite 11.
For Zaire, a 6-footer from Kettering (Ohio) Archbishop Alter who's probably the shortest recruit at this event, it's all about staying motivating and constantly proving he belongs among the elite quarterbacks.
Zaire has a strong left arm, great release and zips the ball all over the field. His size doesn't seem to limit him at all.
"You definitely have some of that bias, but it all depends on what you do on the field that really counts," Zaire said. "The eye test you might not pass, but the on-the-field test is what you really want to accomplish.
"There's an idea that the 6-4 guy with the rocket arm is the prototype quarterback, but I think the game has definitely changed where shorter guys are getting a shot ? me going to Notre Dame, I hope I can get a chance to show that even more."
Del Rio said: "Coaches prefer brains over height, especially head coaches. I don't think they care as much as coordinators or position coaches. Every single coach I've met has said I'm fine and there's nothing to worry about it. If you're about 6-foot, I think you're fine."
Murray never had a problem in high school. Georgia, Florida and many others offered him. He was rated as the third-best pro-style quarterback in the class behind Matt Barkley and Garrett Gilbert. Last season at Georgia, Murray threw for 3,149 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Height doesn't seem to be an issue for him. Murray has proved the doubters wrong. "Believe me," Murray said. "I don't take offense to those questions any more."