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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Catching Up With... Rennie Curran

In case you weren't aware, Georgia's annual Pro Day is today, with last year's group of departing Bulldogs working out for NFL scouts in a combine-esque environment.

This year doesn't have exactly the same box-office cache that last season did with a bevy of big names gawking at future No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford, but for many of Georgia's next crop of pros, this marks a key step in impressing scouts and moving up draft boards.

So, to get you prepped for the day's events, who better to chat with than one of the stars of this year's Pro Day, linebacker Rennie Curran

(NOTE: You can get all my updates from the Pro Day festivities by following me on Twitter.)

David Hale: You've been training for the combine and pro day for the last few months since announcing you were leaving school a year early, so what has the whole process been like?

Rennie Curran:
The last couple months have been crazy. I announced, chose my agent, got my own apartment, started training at CES -- where I trained in high school, got back with my strength guy, Ryan Goldin. So I've just been working with him. I'm really just making sure my body's in line, all my movements are efficient. It's been a lot of work.

And besides that, studying football and making sure I understand what my teammates and everybody are doing so I could prepare for the combine. A big part of the combine was doing the interviews, and standing in front of the GMs and coaches and explaining your defense to them to let them know you're a student of the game.

And when I'm not training and seeing doctors and things like that, I'm eating a lot, keeping my weight up and studying football. That's basically it, and just seeing my family and spending time with them. With my little girl, I'm just like 10 minutes away so that's been really nice that if I need to see them or spend time with them, that's right down the road.

DH: You mentioned those interviews with scouts and GMs during the combine. Obviously you've always been a favorite of the Georgia media when it comes to doing interviews, but what was the experience like of interviewing for a job in the NFL?

It's pretty strange. My first one, I was sweating, I was nervous. I was just trying to make sure I said all the right things and impress them. That's what I came there to do. But after like the third one, I just relaxed and got more and more comfortable with it. The biggest thing that everybody tells you is just to be yourself. That's so important, and it's true. They're going to know when they talk to you when you're not being sincere or you're just saying what they want to hear. So I was just real with them and just showed them what I could do and was honest with them in what I could bring to the team and what I felt like my strengths and my weaknesses were. That's the main thing, and then just showing them that I understand defense, I understand offenses and what they're trying to do, and how we use our defense against you and different things.

DH: I remember last year there was a big deal made of some rather personal questions asked of Matthew Stafford during an interview with the 49ers and it was enough to convince Matthew to get up and leave the room. I've heard plenty of other interview horror stories, too. Was the experience as bad as all that? Did they ask you some personal questions to try to throw you off your game?

Oh yeah. A couple of them would ask you if you'd ever been arrested, about your family, you know, they wanted to know about my situation of having a little girl and my relationship with her mom, if we were getting married, things like that that I didn't really know how to answer the best way.

I was just glad that at UGA that I did things right and I wasn't a guy who got in trouble and got DUIs and all kinds of other mess because that would have been something I'd have to sit there and explain to them. That would have been rough because it's like, you're sitting there and you're on the hot seat and they grill you. So if you're not a guy who took care of business, and you're trying to vouch for yourself and say, 'I'm a good guy, I can do this and that,' it's not going to really say much if you don't have your coaches backing you up or you don't have people that you worked for before that saying good things about you.

DH: So see, us Georgia reporters weren't so bad after all.

Nah, that really prepared me for moments like that.

DH: Well, I'm glad we could help. Well, let me switch subjects to the physical side of the combine. You got to do a bit of the work, but a hamstring injury ended your workout early. I'm sure that was a bit of a disappointment, but what was the experience like overall?

I felt good. Even though I tweaked my hamstring a little bit, I tried to be smart and not push it. Once you put those numbers down, that's it, and that goes a long way. For your whole career, you might be known by that 40 time or by what you're doing in those combines.

So the main thing was I got to see my competition and what I needed to work on, which ended up being a good thing. I came back and went back to work, and I know what I need to improve on for Pro Day and how to impress those coaches even more. I want to show them what I can do because it's been non-stop work for me from 8 until easily 3 o'clock, and that's not even counting studying football. So it was a little bit disappointing, but one of the biggest things was the interviews and just introducing myself. And believe it or not, measuring -- getting those heights and weights in and showing them that I'm not as small as they think I am.

DH: Obviously it's your height that always gets talked about, and yet, as you've said, it's the one thing you really have no control over. So I'm guessing you knew what the results would be when you went in for that measurement, but was it still pretty stressful anyway?

It was one of those things, I wish I could control it, but there's nothing I can do to change it, so it was like, they're going to have to accept me for who I am. I'm 5-10-and-a-half, and that's not going to change. So I just went up there with confidence. I worked hard in the weight room, and it showed when I stepped on the scale. I was 235 and looked good, so that's all I can really offer is to show them I worked hard and I have that weight and let what I did at the combine speak for itself. As far as my height, I wasn't worried at all. I knew I'd be one of the shortest or the shortest there, so I was ready.

DH: What was the feedback you got from NFL people when it comes to your height?

Everyone I talk to says, you know, you're fine, you're going to play in the NFL, don't worry about your height, don't worry about what people say. I talked to London Fletcher before I left, and a couple of other guys like Jessie Tuggle as well, and they just reassured me. The coaches that I met with, that was the last thing they were worried about was my height. They were looking at that film and seeing that I could help their defense. So it was a good feeling to have more than one team telling me that.

DH: Have you been keeping in touch with some of the other UGA guys who will be at Pro Day -- Jeff and Geno and Reshad and those guys?

Oh yeah. I talk to them. Me, Jeff and Kade are training at the same place. We all keep in touch with each other and watch the film and train.

DH: Were you impressed with Jeff doing 40-some reps on the bench press at the combine?

Yeah, definitely. He did good. We all worked hard, and it was good to see the guys all get the results they wanted.

DH: Well you get to come back to UGA for Pro Day, but what has it been like being away this spring? Any regrets about the decision you made to leave early?

I definitely miss it. That's probably the biggest thing is I miss being with my boys. I go on the Web site and look through the spring practice pictures and I'm used to seeing myself in there, and I'm not there. It's a weird feeling. But even though I'm not going to be with my teammates, I keep in touch with them a lot.

Just not being on campus is weird, but at the same time, I've got a huge opportunity. It's one in a million, and a lot of people never get to do that. A lot of people can't say they're living out their childhood dream. So I have no complaints. I have nothing to look back at and say I should have done it different. That was the biggest thing when I made the decision was to wake up every morning and not have any regrets, saying why didn't I do this or why didn't I do that. I still feel the same, I still feel like I made a good decision.

DH: You said you talked with those guys a lot still. What are you expecting from guys like Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble who are stepping into your shoes this year as the leaders of the linebacking crew? Are they up to the task?

Oh yeah, I know they're going to be fine. Those guys work really hard. They know how to lead. They can lead by example and by what they do and say on the football field. I'm not worried about them at all. DG and Dent, they're going to do things right. They'll get in that film room, and -- especially for Darryl and the two Akeems -- it is their senior year, so it's going to be even more important for them to have a good year, to bring that defense up to where it should be. I'm excited for them, and I want to see them do really well. It's going to be tough not being on the field with them, but I know they're going to do great things.

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