Chicken Nuggets No More

ATHENS – Looking at Rennie Curran's body, and its hard to think that he used to eat chicken nuggets.

Highlight clips from Rennie Curran's 2007 games against Georgia Tech and Auburn...

"I used to do that just to gain weight when I was going through recruiting," Curran admitted.

That didn't last long, however. A workout fanatic whose body looks like it was carved from stone, Curran stopped eating like that after he saw a movie.

"I saw that movie Super Size Me and after that I said: ‘no more.' I never eat fast food anymore, and I don't miss it," he said.

Curran's distain for fast foods was just one part of a change that lead to him exploding onto the Georgia scene midway through the Dawgs' electric 11-2 season. In fact, one could make the argument that Curran was the second player, behind running back Knowshon Moreno, that pushed the Dawgs to their stellar season. Curran admits, however, that it took time to get used to all things college football.

"I don't know of a turning point," Curran said. "I think maybe things really started to click at the Troy game for me. I think the Florida game was good for me, too."

But weeks before that Georgia - specifically Curran - turned the season around after the devastating blowout loss at Tennessee.

"In the Tennessee game, which was such a big game, I think the light started to come on a little," he said. "After the Tennessee game I think the coaches started to notice that I could play a little bit, and I got out there a little more. I think my preparation was better, too. Everything started clicking and slowing down from that point forward."

Curran became a fixture in the Bulldogs' defense from that point on. His best game came in Georgia's blackout blowout win over Auburn, the school Curran likely would have picked had Georgia never offered.

But the Bulldogs did offer, and Curran is glad they did. It's allowed him to quickly become a force on one of the top defenses in the SEC. He said he's learned a lot from one of the linebackers already in place in Athens – Dannell Ellerbe.

"We have the same sort of play out there – we are both mean and nasty," he said. "We complement each other. He is older and has more experience, and the more and more I watch him the more I learn. I've learned a lot from him. If I don't know what to do I just call out to him."

Ellerbe and linebackers coach John Jancek couldn't teach the former Brookwood star everything – there were some things he would have to pick up on his own.

"Coming into it, college football is very intimidating. I really wanted to do whatever it took to get onto the field. So I snuck into the film room and watched Tony Taylor and Odell Thurman to see what I should be learning," he said. "Those two guys are guys I am trying to be like on the field. They were great ones. They never messed up. They never made assignment errors. If you watch Tony you notice that he was never in the wrong place. He wasn't the fastest guy, but he just knew his assignment. He was different as a linebacker. That's why I want to be like that."

Jancek said Curran is a pleasure to deal with on and off the field – pointing Curran out at Sugar Bowl practices as a "joy" to coach. Jancek will look for Curran to give even more to the program in the form of leadership. To do that as a freshman, anyone would admit, is a very difficult thing to accomplish. But with a year under his belt, Curran said it's time for him to become more of a leader for Georgia.

"I want to grow into being a leader for this team," he said. "Being a freshman this season it was hard to get the respect of everyone."

Curran, a starter going into spring football, which begins in one week, will focus on his body once more – getting it ready for the season to come.

"During spring I am going to be focused on developing my body even more," he said. "I think everyone has weaknesses that they need to work on. I am going to get into the film room and become solid on the entire defense so that there are no mistakes. I don't want to be held back."

A turned-loose Curran could be a nightmare for the opposition. He said getting to that point is just as much a mental thing as it is physical.

"The mental aspect of football is different in college," he said. "Besides keeping your body right you have to keep your mind right, too. The people you bring around you – it helps to bring around positive people. You have to constantly keep your body fit. It's an all-around effort and sacrifice. You have to eat right and you have to workout right."

And you have to let the chicken nuggets go… as sad as that may be.

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