Durham's off-season different in 2008

ATHENS – This spring and summer was not like the last two for Kris Durham – and that's a good thing.

The Calhoun native decided that if he wanted to make a splash this fall and beyond that he would have to change some of his off-season routine.

"This spring I realized that if I wanted to have a chance to play a major role with this team that I needed to get to work," he said.

So that's what Durham did.

"The next three weeks I was at Ryan Goldin's place (The Factory in Gwinnett County) four days a week. On the day off Fred (Munzienmier) and I would go play basketball or run. Ryan has been a big influence on me. He's shown me things that have gotten me a lot stronger. He's told me how to eat, and that's put a lot of good weight on me."

After that different sort of spring Durham tipped the scales at a very respectable 212 pounds - and his teammates have noticed.

"His confidence – his swagger – has gotten bigger since he's been here," Mohamed Massaqoui said earlier this week. "I think he's going to contribute in a big way. I think he's worked hard this off-season and gotten a lot better as a result of it."

"Last season I was about 200. It's difficult to gain weight," Durham admitted. "I have a high metabolism, so it's very hard for me to gain weight. I have been lifting and what I eat. I have lived with Fred, and I think he gets a lot for this because he really knows how to eat right. What Fred ate I ate and that really helped me get my body to the place where I could gain weight."

The work during the spring and summer was in direct contrast to what Durham did the previous two off-seasons. Part of the problem in the past was Durham's high school obligations – other parts were not as easily explainable.

"The first spring at Georgia I went home because I had to go though graduation and all of the senior stuff. Last year I had a good G-Day, but I was kind of tired of football at that point. I realized that I didn't have the season I wanted to," he said.

Durham said he had to get raise his own expectations because he knew the expectations of his teammates required more than going home because you were tired. Durham, with his expression showing it, explained that he's put the work in required to talk about winning championships.

"We've worked hard in the off-season and we want to make sure that all of the hype we've been getting in the off-season is true – that we have the ability to win the SEC East, the SEC and maybe a National Championship," he said. "My goal is to play and win the starting job. If the team needs me to play special teams and not wide receiver then I am fine with that."

But it likely will include many possessions, if not the starting job, at receiver. Durham's performance in the 2008 Sugar Bowl and the spring practice that followed it raised expectations of the junior. Georgia may be gaining impressive young receivers, but it was losing playmakers that we known commodities – Sean Bailey and Mikey Henderson made game-winning plays in their careers that propelled the Dawgs to SEC Championships or top-five seasons.

"When Mikey caught the touchdown against Alabama I think that helped a lot – it gave us a lot of confidence, which is what we call ‘swagger'. Since we've had that its been hard to stop," Durham said.

Perhaps the same is being expected of Durham now. Those close to him said he has elevated his game enough since last December to be taken very seriously as a candidate to play in the NFL, which is impressive considering that Durham would likely have redshirted under any other circumstances than that of 2006.

"I would have loved to had that redshirt year – it probably would have benefited me – but Sean (Bailey) was out; T.J. (Gartrell) was hurt; Demiko (Goodman) was hurt that year; Mario Railey was out two games – I had to play," he said. "Looking back it was better for the team that I played. For me personally it would have probably been better for me to redshirt."

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