I have a story in today's Telegraph on the difficult decision process that Georgia juniors Rennie Curran and Reshad Jones are going through as they weigh whether or not to return to school for their final seasons or bolt for the NFL, where both could be relatively early draft picks. I spoke with Rennie at length about his decision, and I thought his responses were particularly interesting. Here's the full interview...
David Hale: Obviously most people will talk about your on-field efforts and your NFL review as to how prepared you are for the next level. But what are some of those things outside of football that are weighing heavily in your decision?
Rennie Curran: It’s not only about football or about money or anything like that. Certainly coming back and being a senior and having that legacy like a David Greene or a David Pollack, that’s huge for me as well. Being able to represent the school and having a chance to win those senior awards. Having a chance to be the career tackle leader, that’s huge to me and has a lot to do with my decision as well. There’s a lot of personal reasons for coming back that people might now see. There’s other things like just having fun. This is the best time of my life. Being in Athens in general, just being with my teammates, these are moments I’ll never be able to get back. People think about the league and everything, all they see is the money. They think when you make a decision to leave, it’s all about money. It’s really not. There’s so much more than that. It’s something that has about a million variables when you’re in a position like mine.
DH: I know you've talked often about the charitable work you do and the stuff you want to do in the future, doing work in Liberia and also in your own community. How does that factor into your thought process?
RC: It’s something that’s going to be a huge part of what I do. Football is not all there is to it. There are a lot of people you can effect by going to that next level – for instance going to Liberia and starting up my own charitable foundation and just giving back to the community as a whole. I’m a local kid. I grew up in Atlanta, 45 minutes away from Athens. There are countless things I can do in the community to just help and give back – not only to my own family, but to young kids who need mentorship and things like that. The possibilities are endless.
DH: How much have you talked with former players like Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno and Asher Allen, who all went through this just last year?
RC: I talk to Asher a whole lot. He’s given me the reality of it all, just letting me know that it is going to be a grind and it doesn’t get any easier, just filling me in. It’s been great to hear from those guys. Brannan Southerland, I talked to Matt, too. They’ve told me how their experience was and telling me if they had it to do over again, what they would do. It’s all been positive, and it’s really helped me out.
DH: Have you spent some time talking about this stuff with Reshad Jones, who is also weighing his options on the future?
(*Note: Be sure to check out the Telegraph story for some interesting comments from Reshad and Bryan Evans about Jones' future with the Dawgs.)RC: When you have other teammates that are in a similar situation, it makes things a whole lot easier. You can relate to each other and you can ask each other how they feel about certain issues. It’s definitely been something he and I have talked about a lot – and talked about with our teammates. It’s something you can’t help but discuss when it’s getting toward the end of the season.
DH: So do you have a few teammates that are giving you the hard sell, trying to convince you to come back for another year?
RC: Everybody – but I’m making it hard on myself. I want to come back. I love it here. I’ve learned so much since I’ve been here. And really, when I think about it, I’ve only been here two-and-a-half years, so it really has flown by. There’s still so much I can do in Athens, so much I can accomplish. So it goes both ways, and I feel like it’s a win-win situation.
DH: Has it dawned on you that this could potentially be your final game for Georgia? Is that something you think about right now?
RC: I just put it out of my mind and get ready for it just like another game, just enjoy it and play for my seniors and my coaches who are gone now and represent the school as well as I can. Every time I go out, I give it my best. I hope people see that, and I hope if this is my last game, I hope that’s what people will remember about me – that every single play of every single game, I fought my heart out. I love the game and I love Georgia.