Curran says he’ll leave UGA for NFL draft

(Updated 6 p.m.)

As Bulldog Nation awaited word Sunday on whether Kirby Smart will be Georgia’s next defensive coordinator, the team’s best defensive player announced  he is leaving school early for pro football.

In what he called the “toughest decision I’ve had to make in my life,” junior linebacker Rennie Curran said he will forgo his final season of college eligibility and enter the 2010 NFL draft.

His decision came as Georgia appeared on the verge of hiring a defensive coordinator to replace Willie Martinez, fired on Dec. 2.

Smart, Alabama’s defensive coordinator and a former Georgia player, has been considering a lucrative multi-year offer to take over the UGA defense but has not made his decision known.

“I’ll tell you what I’ve been saying all along: that I’m not going to make any comments on the search until I get my guy,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said late Sunday afternoon.

And is he about to get his guy?

“I’ll let you know when it happens, I promise,” Richt said.

Smart could not be reached for comment Sunday.

The new coordinator will have to rebuild the Bulldogs’ defense without the linebacker who led the SEC in tackles this past season.

Curran, from Brookwood High School,  played in 37 games in his three seasons at Georgia,  making 30 starts and 298 tackles.  He was named the team’s Most Valuable Player this past season.

His decision to enter the draft was not a surprise, but he said it was agonizing.

“There were so many variables, so many unknowns in making a big decision like this, because you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” Curran said. “It’s a total leap of faith.

“It’s one thing to say that you’re going to go -– that you’re mentally and physically ready. But it’s another thing to actually take the stand and have the courage to do it and  not look back. . . . It was something I really battled with.”

In the end, Curran said an accumulation of factors convinced him the time was right to end his UGA career: the need to financially support his 1-year-old daughter, the loss of other key defensive players, the likely change of defensive scheme with a new coordinator, and the recognition that the biggest knock against his NFL potential (his height, generously listed at 5-11) wouldn’t change with another year of college.

“Those were some of the things I wrote down on my list of pros and cons,” Curran said, “and my reasons to go outweighed my reasons to stay, even though I love Georgia.”

He  is the second starter on Georgia’s 2009 defense to announce he is entering the NFL draft early, following junior safety Reshad Jones. Georgia also is losing two other starters in the secondary and the top three defensive tackles off the ‘09  team to graduation.

Curran said he considered delaying his decision until a new defensive coordinator is hired, which could be as soon as Monday, but concluded he’d make the same choice no matter who the hire.

He wouldn’t disclose the round in which the NFL  advisory board projects him to be drafted, but said it is “good enough” to justify the decision. He is counting on a strong showing at the NFL Scouting Combine late next month to boost his stock.

“I’m going to have to really knock out the Combine,” he said, “but I feel like the sky is the limit. I just have to get one team to like me.”

Said Richt: “I think Rennie will do well. He’s a tackling machine. He always has been. I don’t care what level of ball he plays at, he’s going to be that torpedo that can hit. I just want to tell him thanks for everything he did for us.”

178 comments Add your comment

Cujo

January 10th, 2010
3:28 pm

First… UGA can surely outbid them, can’t they?

dallis04

January 10th, 2010
3:31 pm

If we don’t get smart…It’ll truly cap and end to a bad season for UGA…BUT if we get him…be a dang nice start for 2010

Yes

January 10th, 2010
3:32 pm

Yes, they can.

dallis04

January 10th, 2010
3:33 pm

also TIm, does this mean that Smart has already made his decision…I figured Curran would want to know about D coordinator first??

jaff

January 10th, 2010
3:33 pm

Do you think UGA will get Smart?

St.Petedawg

January 10th, 2010
3:34 pm

I’m sure they can and will Cujo.

Cuz

January 10th, 2010
3:36 pm

Kirby’s wife was on the girls UGA B-ball team. Do you think that might also have some merit on coming home?

dawg nation

January 10th, 2010
3:37 pm

Book it!! He’s a DAWG at heart!!!

Thiry Points to your Twenty-Four Points

January 10th, 2010
3:38 pm

I am HOPING this means Kirby has made his decesion to come, and Curran wants to stay….. wishful thinking.

I think the anticipaion is bad for our program. This issue needs to be resolved ASAP

Cuz

January 10th, 2010
3:38 pm

Sounds almost like Bama is channeling their inner Don Vito Corleone. I hope the Smart’s don’t own any horses.

Thirty Points to your Twenty-Four Points

January 10th, 2010
3:39 pm

Saban being upset about Smart leaving would just be icing on the cake

TheDawgPound

January 10th, 2010
3:40 pm

Alabama’s pockets are too deep. And why would he come to Athens for a rebuilding project when he could stay at Bama 1 more year and probably get a head coaching position. Our DC job is not as attractive as we think it is

Is Kirby the Answer?

January 10th, 2010
3:42 pm

How much of Bama’s D is really Kirby though? Saban is considered one of the better defensive football minds in pro or college ball of the last 15 years; has Smart benefited from exposure to Saban enough to take the step to go out on his own? Also if he does come to UGA and turns the D around, you have to think he might be one and done as hot HC candidate after next season and the Dawgs will be back to square one.

TheDawgPound

January 10th, 2010
3:44 pm

There is really not much stability at UGA either. Everyone knows that with another bad year, Richt may get forced out

Slick

January 10th, 2010
3:46 pm

Both schools got tons of money. Either could match any offer. It’s not a matter of one school being unable to go higher, but rather unwilling.

Red Light

January 10th, 2010
3:46 pm

While Curran is a great college linebacker, wouldn’t he have to move to strong safety in the pros? He’s no Sam Mills!

SuperB

January 10th, 2010
3:47 pm

Every big name DC in the country should thak Mark Richt– for THEIR school giving them a raise.

St.Petedawg

January 10th, 2010
3:49 pm

Why are over half the comments on a dawg blog site negative?

Krogunner

January 10th, 2010
3:51 pm

Kirby Smart will be the next head coach at the University of South Florida. You heard it here first. I am actually glad. we need a DC that will be around a while. If Smart came he’d only be here a year or two and then we are right back in the same boat. Hey Richt, take a look at how Meyer is rebuilding his staff (because of promotions, not firings) and tearing it up on the recruiting trail. If we want Smart then fire Richt and hire him as Head Coach!

Vince

January 10th, 2010
3:53 pm

the fact that Rennie is ready to announce is interesting seeing how he has said for a while that he would wait….I wonder if he knows something we don’t.

Dawg Man

January 10th, 2010
3:53 pm

Man, with all these super recruit qb’s we got coming, and these 2 freshmen at UGA now, if we get Smart, I bet every opponent on our schedule will start trembling—National Champs for the next 4 years and probably more after that, I bet at least 4 teams will forfeit to keep from being beat 100-0 every week–great to be a dawg !!, Wish Jan Kemp hadnt caught us changing grades, then I bet we’d be in championship every year.

Eat It St. Simons

January 10th, 2010
3:53 pm

Best of luck to you Rennie, you’re a DGD.

((((30-24)))) hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
((((73-66)))) hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
((((24-14)))) hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

WE RUN THIS STATE!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

ajc is slow

January 10th, 2010
3:54 pm

It’s not good that Rennie’s holding a press conference. They never hold a press conference to stay. That also makes me wonder if that means Smart is not coming to UGA.

Bremen Dawg

January 10th, 2010
3:55 pm

UGA has as much money as Alabama. I would have thought UGA would have offered somewhere around 900,000 and that would be in line with the best DC’s is the nation. I wish Rennie to best if he jumps to the NFL. I don’t see him play linebacker in the NFL, probably third string LB and special teams guy. He has the speed that is needed.

ajc is slow

January 10th, 2010
3:55 pm

Vince, that’s exactly what I was thinking…

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

January 10th, 2010
3:55 pm

need decision soon, this can’t be helping recruiting. could see true freshman play LB next year, who’s the replacement for rennie?

Albert

January 10th, 2010
3:56 pm

Hey Eat it St Simons, what was the UF-dawg score the past couple of seasons?? Love the ” dawg meat “

Bremen Dawg

January 10th, 2010
3:56 pm

Sounds like Kirby is playing the money game now, if he was coming he would have already signed the contract.

tw3a

January 10th, 2010
3:56 pm

If Smart comes to georgia and Right can’t right the ship he would have a chance at becoming headcoach, also a possible head coach in the future at his own school

Krogunner

January 10th, 2010
3:56 pm

Eat It St. Simmons, What are you 10? Grow up and represent your school with a little class. No wonder other schools look at the dawgs like a bunch of clowns.

SavDawg

January 10th, 2010
3:56 pm

I hope we get Smart, but you got to think being the DC at Bama looks better on a resume. I hope he (and his wife) want to come back to Athens.

GaGator

January 10th, 2010
3:58 pm

TheDawgPound

You make alot of sense. Good summation.

ajc is slow

January 10th, 2010
3:58 pm

DC at Bama only looks food on his resume at this moment b/c they just won the NC. If he comes to UGA when they are down and UGA goes to win the NC that will be more impressive….

Krogunner

January 10th, 2010
3:59 pm

Kirby Smart is not the answer. Even if he comes he will not be here long. Get a good NFL guy that will be around a while and build a D. i would rather us be in the market for a Head Coach!

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

January 10th, 2010
3:59 pm

whoever the DC is, UGA has plenty of $$ to spend. we’ll get a good coach that’s for sure. just need the players to buy into it.

Dewnsav

January 10th, 2010
3:59 pm

HMMMM….maybe the decomitted Blake Sims knew something…

FL Dawg

January 10th, 2010
4:00 pm

If Saban wants to keep Smart enough that they match what we offer, we need to poney up the money and go get the young man. If I were ‘Bamas OC, I would be asking for the same right now. Coaching in college just became much more lucrative folks….

Personally, I am suprised ‘Bama is willing to pay so much for Smarts services, they still have Saban who can teach another young DC…from a business stand point, ‘Bama should move on.

ajc is slow

January 10th, 2010
4:00 pm

Dewnsav,

Blake Sims want to be a QB or WR & Bama wanted to play him on defense. That’s why he decommited.

Krogunner

January 10th, 2010
4:01 pm

Anyone see what Florida is doing on the recruiting trail, geeez!

JasonDawg

January 10th, 2010
4:02 pm

If Curren goes to NFL I believe UGA isn’t getting Smart. Just my opinion.. If they get Smart, Curren would stay.

jack bull

January 10th, 2010
4:03 pm

i don’t really understand why people are so impatient on this. i guess it’s just a sign of the times. but the “delay” in making a hire does not hurt our program. as long as we have someone in place before the dead period ends in a couple of weeks, we’ll be okay. besides, according to most of the folks on here it really doesn’t matter who we hire, right? anybody will be better than what we had….

according to most on here, that is…

woohoo

January 10th, 2010
4:03 pm

CURRAN IS STAYING!!!! BRING ON SMART!!

Yes

January 10th, 2010
4:03 pm

I just read on David Pollack’s Twitter that He’s Coming.

ajc is slow

January 10th, 2010
4:05 pm

Curran leaving….Smart must be staying.

smart would be smart

January 10th, 2010
4:06 pm

Rennie is too short, hes good but was a liabilty this year in many ways, press confrence is to make him seem more appealing to the draft…If Kirby doesnt come it’s becasue he’s still mad at GA for not promoting him the first time..Why would anyone want to stay in damabama, it doesn’t eve compare to GA, and I believe him and Damon are close, Saban is sour grapes, Kirby ought to know, Richt want coach forever who wouldnt want to coach UGA at the highest level, #1 draft pick last year, Now South Florida come on, dont win there your done, but would be agreat palce to live, Rennie’s just tired of waiting.

jack bull

January 10th, 2010
4:06 pm

Krogunner, i kinda think you may need to find another team to root for…another head coach?!? you can’t be serious…

as far as UF, yeah, they’re getting a lot of guys,,but , wait and see, they’ll be in some trouble soon, just like Miami did back in the 90’s..i prefer to do it the Georgia Way, myself…

THWG

January 10th, 2010
4:06 pm

Rennie time to feed those kids you fathered on campus. One less t.h.u.g. for athens police to worry about.

richt is an idiot. kirby will make sure he has egg all over his face. why would that guy leave that defense and team to coach lousy pups who are perenial losers.

alabama has been ranked top 5 for two straight years, most of their players are coming back and he has a chance to win back to back sec and nc and you think he is going to leave bama for a 300k rasie.

:) :) :) fat chance.

cherokee

January 10th, 2010
4:06 pm

Curran is Gone

ugadawg

January 10th, 2010
4:08 pm

rennie curren said he’s entering nfl draft

ajc is slow

January 10th, 2010
4:08 pm

Rennie: “If I came back it would have been awesome, but leaving offers a whole lot of opportunities as well.”