0

Curran writes about excitement of first two days of NFL combine

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Former University of Georgia standout Rennie Curran trains last week at Competitive Edge Sports in Duluth as he prepares for the NFL draft.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Former University of Georgia standout Rennie Curran trains last week at Competitive Edge Sports in Duluth as he prepares for the NFL draft.

Brookwood grad Rennie Curran, who left Georgia after his junior season for the upcoming NFL draft, was invited for workouts at the NFL combine, held in Indianapolis from Feb. 24 to March 2. Curran and other linebackers hopeful of NFL careers worked out in the event's final few days for pro scouts. The 21-year-old kept a diary for the Daily Post on his combine experiences.

This is the first installment of Curran's diary -- the second will run Sunday.

Day 1

My journey began at 6 a.m. when I left my parents' house in Snellville to head to the airport. I spent the night with them so that we could pray and spend some time together before I left for the most important job interview of my life.

I said goodbye to everyone and my father drove me. After a 30-minute ride we made it. I got my bags and checked in. When I arrived at the gate I was surprised to see a ton of familiar faces, some guys I had trained with and some guys I had played against such as Brandon Spikes (Florida), Rolando McClain and Terrence Cody (Alabama) and Eric Norwood (South Carolina). I had no idea we would all be on the same flight.

We had some time to talk about where we had been training and what the process has been like. The main theme definitely seemed to be the fact that we were all ready to get to the combine and get to work. When it was time to board, we all lined up and drew the stares of everyone else as it was obvious that we were all football players. With all the massive defensive linemen we had on the plane, I wondered if that would cause some turbulence issues. But at last, we made it to snowy covered Indianapolis safely.

We got off the plane and made our way to the baggage claim where we met up with even more players. As I waited for my bag to come I noticed some NFL scouts and coaches from the Jacksonville Jaguars waiting a couple of steps away. I introduced myself and the first thing they did was smile as if they already knew who I was. It was a good feeling because I didn't know what to expect. I spoke with the linebackers coach for a little while before grabbing my bags and meeting up with the other players. We then met another scout who led us to the buses that took us on our 20-minute ride to the hotel.

There we were greeted by more scouts, did some paperwork and given our room keys. A couple of seconds after receiving my room key, I was assigned to an NFL scout. He handed me a big duffel bag full of Under Armour gear and escorted me to my room. We made it to my room and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I didn't have a roommate. I threw my suitcase down on my king-sized bed and began to go through all the free Under Armour stuff they had given us. There were shorts, sweats, compression shirts, socks and pretty much all the gear we would be wearing at the combine. I threw on the sweats and met back up with my scout who took me back to where we checked in.

We met back up with some of the other players and were taken to one of the local hospitals to be put through a gauntlet of sorts. The medical evaluation would be the first and longest part of the combine. We got there and seemingly were put through every medical test possible. It didn't matter if you had hurt your hand in little league football. If you were ever hurt in your life, they were going to find out. After about three hours in the hospital I was done with the medical part of the combine, or so I thought.

I went back to the hotel with only a couple of players I had left with. Luckily, I had never really been hurt playing football so I didn't have to take MRIs or X-Rays. With the free time, I met up with my agent, Deryk Gilmore of Priority Sports, at the restaurant in the hotel. I told him how excited I was to be there and how the medical evaluation had just gone. He encouraged me to just have fun and enjoy this once in a lifetime experience. One of the reasons I chose him is because he always was sincere and didn't just tell me what I wanted to hear.

Deryk then took me over to another hotel where Nike had a suite set up for combine players to come check out new gear. They had some of the nicest cleats and running shoes with colors and designs I had never seen. I quickly asked for some cleats that were silver and chrome. After being loaded with a ton of Nike shoes and apparel, I met up with one of the guys I had trained with and we went down to the Reebok suite. After collecting as much as possible in that suite, I left the hotel with so much gear I could hardly hold it all. I made it back to my room, threw all the stuff down, and made it downstairs just in time for dinner.

I saw my (UGA) teammates Jeff Owens and Geno Atkins, along with pretty much all the big name players we had ever heard of or played against. It was weird because you watch so many of these guys on ESPN, and now we were all together having dinner and hanging out. I look one way and see Ndamukong Suh at a table, look the other and see Tim Tebow, Jordan Shipley and Colt McCoy at another. It was a very cool moment.

The head of the combine made it to the podium, welcomed us and urged us to have fun and enjoy the experience (this sounded similar to what Deryk had just told me). After the speech, we were assigned to our individual scout who would guide us while at the combine. He gave us the schedule for the week before leading us to a big ballroom filled with NFL coaches, scouts and executives. Each team had its own table. The first team that approached me was the New York Jets. I met with their linebacker coach who pretty much asked about my background before getting into football questions. I was pretty nervous in my first interview, but by midway through I was a pro. By the end of the night, which for me was around 11 p.m., I had interviewed with a ton of teams and felt very confident in how I did.

As tired as I was, I knew that this was the opportunity I had worked a lifetime to achieve, and the last thing I was about to do was complain. I talked to my family for a little while, got my things ready for the next day and called it a night.

Day 2

I woke up to the sound of my cell phone alarm at 4 a.m. We had to take a drug test first thing in the morning. I was tired, but quickly shook that off when I remembered exactly where I was and thought about how many people would never have the chance to do this. After the drug test, I was able to go back to my room and get two more hours of sleep before heading to breakfast.

Today was a pretty important day. We would be getting weighed and measured in front of all the scouts. Even though I truly believe that size really has little to do with how good of a football player you are on the field, at the combine it's everything. Not being the prototypical weight or height at some positions can make or break you, even if you are ridiculously talented.

I met up with the rest of the linebackers in the hotel lobby along with our scout. He did the daily roll call to make sure everyone had made it down and then led us to the Indianapolis Colts' home field, Lucas Oil Stadium. As soon as we walked out of the hotel the cold wind smacked me right in the face. If I wasn't awake before, now I was. We were less than five minutes from the stadium and I could see the huge picture of Peyton Manning as we got closer.

We walked into the building and I was amazed at how nice it was. It was like a dream, almost unreal to be there. We made our way to the bottom of the stadium and were led to a large room where tons of NFL personnel were seated. The only thing separating us from them was curtains.

We lined up in order of our numbers, got in nothing but our Under Armour compression shorts, and waited.

One at a time we walked out, having our hands measured first, then our arm lengths and then headed to the stage at the front of the room where they took our height and weight. I felt more than confident as I made my way up on the stage. There was obviously nothing I could do about my height, but I knew I had worked as hard as I could with my trainer, Ryan Golden, to make sure that I was more than physically ready. I measured in at 5-foot-101/2 and weighed in at 235 pounds, which was exactly where I wanted to be. People were so sure that I was this little linebacker and there was no way I was more than 5-9. Even Deryk told me he had a steak dinner bet with a bunch of teams that I was more than 5-9. It felt good to finally be done with that and put that misconception to rest. After weighing in, I made my way to the body pod. It looked like some type of futuristic time capsule. It uses air displacement to determine your body composition, body fat and all. After being in the pod, I put my sweats on and took a picture that would be seen on the combine Web site.

From there it was on to more medical evaluations. In addition to being looked at by hospital staff, we had to be looked at now by the team doctors from every single NFL club. There were six different rooms we had to visit, each with NFL team doctors waiting to check us out in order to make sure they knew every single injury we had ever had. There was no hiding or getting out of a prior injury. If they even felt something that seemed a little strange, you were going to get an X-Ray or MRI. This lasted for another three hours and was followed by a functional movement test which was followed by media interviews. I thought I was done after that, but one of the doctors said my knee felt "funny," so I had to spend two extra hours getting an X-Ray and MRI. The long medical process was finally over when I awoke from the MRI machine.

I was so exhausted I almost fell down some stairs walking out of the building. I laughed it off and made my way back to the hotel for dinner with a couple of linebackers that had to get checked as well. I ate dinner and talked with some of the guys for a while before heading over to the conference room to be interviewed by more teams. I met with teams like the Cardinals, Panthers and Redskins before heading back to my room to get ready for my formal interviews. The difference between the regular and formal interviews is that in a formal interview you were interviewed by the head coach, general manager and defensive coordinator, along with scouts. I wanted to make sure that they knew if they chose me they were going to get a guy who loves to win, loves his team and most importantly loves football.

I made my way back to my room to change into something a little more "formal." I had a meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and it went great. I was pretty nervous, so nervous I was sweating. However, I left the room once again feeling confident that I had done well, and that I would find at least one team to like me. I talked to my family and friends for a little while before ending day two of the combine.