Thursday April 24th, 2008

Schools seeking an elite quarterback in the recruiting class of 2009 had better hurry. The ranks of the uncommitted grow thinner by the day. On Thursday, Western Branch (Chesapeake, Va.) quarterback Kevin Newsome committed to Michigan, while Tampa (Fla.) Plant quarterback Aaron Murray said he would attend Georgia.

Newsome, ranked No. 39 overall for 2009 by Rivals.com, seems an ideal fit for Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez's spread offense. Newsome is a 6-foot-3, 215-pound champion hurdler who threw for more than 1,500 yards and ran for more than 600 while operating out of the spread as a junior. Newsome, who said he and his parents visited "about 10" schools before making a decision, called Rodriguez with the news on Thursday morning.

"There was only one school that, when I left, I had no doubts," Newsome said. "There were no negative aspects to the trip."

Murray, a pro-style passer ranked the No. 48 overall prospect by Rivals.com, announced his choice at a news conference at his high school. Murray, whose finalists were Georgia, Florida and UCLA, declined to play the "pick the hat" game. Instead, he sported a black suit and black tie, adding a black Georgia hat only after he made his announcement.

"After exhaustive research on each of the schools, the many visits, the countless conversations and the never-ending prayers, I selected the school that from the first time I went there to attend a camp, I knew the school was for me," Murray said after sucking in a deep breath. After Murray announced that he had chosen the Bulldogs, several of his teammates began barking.

"Every time I left, I just wanted to go back," Murray said. "I love the coaches, the intensity and the competitive practices."

It was no secret that Murray was coveted by Florida coaches, but Murray said last week that he didn't have emotional ties to any home-state teams. Also, the Gators are fairly stocked at quarterback. Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow has two seasons of eligibility remaining, Cameron Newton is a sophomore and John Brantley is a redshirt freshman. Now that Murray has spurned them, expect Florida coaches to pursue Miramar (Fla.) High's Eugene Smith.

Murray and Newsome each could compete for early playing time, depending on what happens at their chosen schools this season. Georgia starting quarterback Matthew Stafford is entering his junior season, and by the time Murray arrives, Stafford will have either one year to go or will have moved on to the NFL. Backup Joe Cox would be a fifth-year senior, and Logan Gray would be a junior. At Michigan, redshirt freshman Steven Threet is more of a drop-back passer, but he appears the favorite to start this season. This summer, dual-threat quarterback Justin Feagin will arrive in Ann Arbor, and he could challenge Threet for playing time or split time with Threet. Newsome knows all this, but he still couldn't help but be excited by the possibilities at Michigan.

"What quarterback wouldn't want to start all four years?" Newsome said with a laugh.

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