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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Anatomy of a Rennie Curran Interview

I did an interview with Dawg Sports last week in which I was asked who was my favorite player to interview at Georgia. I didn't even need to think about the response. It's Rennie Curran by a long shot.

There are a lot of good folks to talk to on the Bulldogs' roster, but Curran is the epitome of what you want in an interview. He's pleasant. He never complains or tries to duck questions. He doesn't respond in practiced cliches, but rather is honest and thoughtful in everything he says. I've kept him for a solid 20 minutes after everyone else had left because the material was so good, and even after a grueling day of practice, he never once seemed upset that he had to take the extra time to answer my questions.

The best part about a Rennie Curran interview, however, is transcribing his quotes later. As a general rule, transcribing interviews is the single worst part of any reporter's job. It's a daily chore similar to running on a treadmill. You've just got to suck it up and do it no matter how boring and tedious.

But with Rennie, it's like doing a new interview all over again. You ask him questions, and you know he's giving you a great answer, but until you actually sit down and read it in print, you really don't realize how great.

I was in the process of transcribing some Rennie footage tonight for a story I'm writing about him for Friday's Telegraph, so I figured it was worth sharing the quotes in full, as the final version of the story probably won't reflect the real weight of what he said.

I had asked a couple of other linebackers what it was like to play with Rennie, and they all said how much he was a leader on the field, that no matter what the play was, he knew what was happening. So I asked Rennie what his mind-set was on preparing for this season to be able to have such a broad knowledge of the defense. Here's what he said...

“The summer went by fast, but one thing I’ve really tried to do was at least have an idea of our entire defense and at least have an idea of what every guy is doing on the field so I can be the guy that can help them adjust if they’re not lining up correctly. I want to make sure I know the film, know the weaknesses of our defense and just be kind of a know-it-all on defense and be able to help the guys out. That’s the main thing.”

Did you notice the subtle "at least" in there? At the very least, he wanted to know the entire defense. That's like saying, "I'm pretty busy today, but I want to at least build a nuclear submarine in my basement."

Last season, Rennie was obviously one of the most vocal leaders on the team, but he didn't start out that way. I think I went through the majority of the preseason without even talking to him. He just seemed to blend in among the bigger names.

This year, however, things are different. He knew from the start this was his defense. So I asked him about his approach to leadership this year.

Before you read his answer though, I wanted to share one of my all-time favorite quotes, which comes from Mark Twain: "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

Now, here's what Rennie had to say...

“Just having the younger guys, I think that’s really what opened my eyes to the whole leadership thing is having the younger guys come in who were confused at times and would look to me and reach out to me for help. I was able to do that because of the experience that I had and that really just helped me in terms of developing that leadership. You can’t be a leader without being a servant and being able to help your teammates and just really bring up the ability of the guys around you, raise that attitude and set the tempo.”

Sound a little similar?

More to the point, when you look at what last year's team was missing, it wasn't a lack of talented players. It was a lack of talented players who took the time to bring up the ability of the guys around them. Great players make everyone else think that they, too, can become great.

And finally, I knew Rennie had done a lot of offseason speaking engagements around his hometown, and I wanted to know what it was like for him being a much bigger star this year than last. Here's his response...

“It was awesome. I got a chance to go to some churches and speak there. Go to some high schools and speak there. Just the way people responded to me was just a great feeling. It was just a blessing to be able to affect people by what you do on the field and what you represent at Georgia. So I feel great because not only was I working hard in the film room and in the weight room and increasing my knowledge and becoming a student of the game, but I was also reaching out to the community and just having a chance to talk to kids who are sick, little things like that. Even going back to my high school was big. It’s a good feeling when you go back home and everybody’s proud and you can affect people. I think that’s so much bigger than football. It’s what you do with it, what you do with that platform.”

For all the attention that gets heaped on Tim Tebow -- and much of it completely deserved -- he's not the only SEC player using his football credentials to make the world a better place. People like Rennie probably deserve a lot more attention for their work, too. They just don't ask for it.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the quick peek behind the curtain, and don't forget to pick up a copy of Friday's Telegraph for the full story.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

David,

Outstanding! Excellent piece on a great young man. I, too, am hoping Rennie begins to garner some national attention your writing may just be the catalyst for this.

DevilDawgNC said...

Cool piece. His response on leadership seems to be a product of Jesus' teaching on social standing "whoever would be first among you must be the servant of all." I can't wait to see this kid play this year.

jferg said...

Three words: Damn Good Dawg.

Epitome of what we'd all like to see from the guys representing our alma mater.

Love the Mark Twain quote too. This is more than a blog and why I'm here every day.

Dawg Stephen said...

I was able to speak to Chaplain Settles one on one at the spring game this year. I pointed out the Rennie Curran piece from FCA on the inside cover and asked about it.

Mr. Settles answer was one word. "SOLID". Rennie Curran is solid. Not only does he say the right words, he is reflecting that in the way he lives his life.

Great article David.

MikeInValdosta said...

I imagine Kendall Hunter is not going to be so fond of him.

He is something special. Thanks, DH

Bernie said...

I guess it's no surprise that your best post since I can remember is also focused on such an outstanding young man.

Looking forward to reading the full piece tomorrow, with an even greater appreciation of both writer and subject.

PS - tell Rennie to knock the snot outta Tebow.

Anonymous said...

The Liberian Dream!

Yodi said...

Rennie has me speechless. Words fail me right now. Go Dawgs!!