Tennessee Titans linebacker Rennie Curran runs a play during an NFL football practice on Tuesday, June 15, 2010, in Nashville, Tenn. None of the Titans' three starters at linebacker from a year ago have practiced during the team's minicamps, and Curran is one of those being looked at to fill a linebacker spot. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Rennie Curran didn't redshirt during his Georgia football career, but he had a redshirt season sorts last season.
Waived by the Tennessee Titans just before the NFL began its regular season, the former Brookwood and Georgia standout spent the entire season away from football. Since he wasn't eligible for signing to another NFL team's practice squad, his only option was to signing to the 53-man active roster and that was tough because of the NFL lockout, which saw most teams sign proven veterans instead of young free agents because of the shortened preparation time.
Curran didn't let go of the NFL dream, though, and now he's back in the league after signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"It was definitely tough to sit out," the 23-year-old said. "At first, it was hard to watch on Sundays because I was definitely good enough to be out there. It would have been easy to throw in the towel at that point, but I surrounded myself with guys who have been in the league eight or nine years and they explained to me why it was happening. They helped me work through it."
After the Titans' new coaching staff cut him, Curran returned to Gwinnett and started workouts with Chip Smith at Competitive Edge Sports and with trainer Ryan Goldin. While he rested his body from a year of football contact, he also spent a year getting faster and stronger.
He nearly signed with Tampa Bay in late December after his agent got a call from the team. The two sides were so sure of a deal that Curran was headed south to sign a contract.
"(Tampa Bay) literally called my agent at the last second, right before I was about to catch my flight down there and told us (that they were putting the deal on hold)," Curran said. "It was definitely a roller coaster of emotions."
The Buccaneers, under recently hired head coach Greg Schiano, maintained their interest, though. They brought him down for another workout and impressed the team enough to earn a contract.
Curran said Carolina, Jacksonville and Atlanta also expressed interest, but that Tampa Bay offered the best fit.
"There's a lot good about it," the 5-foot-11, 230-pound linebacker said. "They have a free agent linebacker Geno Hayes who they won't be bringing back so that spot is open. And there's a new coaching staff they just hired, so I'll have a fresh start with a new coaching staff. And the front office doesn't care about my height or anything else that doesn't matter."
Curran was a third-round pick of the Titans in the 2010 NFL Draft after leaving Georgia a year early. He played mostly special teams as a rookie in 2010, seeing action in nine games and making seven tackles.
He hoped to build on that debut last season, but instead spent a full season at home in Gwinnett. He kept busy with workouts, music and spending time with his family, in addition to writing on his inspirational/self-help book and setting up a plan to finish his UGA degree.
Now he's ready to focus a little of that time on football.
"It feels good (to be back in the NFL)," Curran said. "I've got that chip on my shoulder again. It makes me appreciate it more now that it was taken away for awhile. It lets you know that football can be taken away from you at any time. I'm ready to give it my all and provide for my family."