June 23, 2010

Durham glad for final opportunity

Kris Durham laughed that there's always some good-natured ribbing that takes place whenever you are one of the oldest members of a college football team.

Just check out the nickname his teammates have bestowed upon him.

"They call me Moses," the 23-year-old Durham said. "They give me a hard time, but it's all in fun. We all have nicknames for each other."

Durham joked it only seems that he's been playing for the Bulldogs for over 10 years.

Actually, his college career should already be complete, and would have been if not for a torn labrum in his left shoulder that forced him to miss the entire 2009 campaign.

It wasn't an easy pill to swallow.

The Calhoun native was coming off his best season as a Bulldog with 13 catches for 199 yards and one touchdown in 2008 with expectations for an even better season last fall.

But those hopes quickly faded when Durham suffered the injury in preseason. He admits thoughts of not being able to play again crossed his mind.

"When it happened it definitely took a lot out of me, mentally, spiritually and physically. It really put a strain on me," he said. "But I guess in the end it was all for the best because I've been able to come back, get healthy and now have a chance to have a memorable senior year."

Here's something fans may not realize.

Much was made of the fact that Georgia played the entire season with just six scholarship receivers. This fall, the Bulldogs will replace the graduated Mike Moore with freshman Michael Bennett, but once you add back Durham, that number now stands at seven.

He should play an integral role.

Underrated as a receiver, the fact Durham understands and can play all three receiver positions - split end, flanker and slot -ensures he'll get his share of snaps.

It also guarantees Durham will be one of the first players some of his younger position mates turn to if they have a question abut what they are supposed to do.

Durham said he's available if anyone wants to bend his ear.

"If they have questions I've got no problem since I've obviously been here the longest," he said. "If they have a question I'll be glad to tell them what I see. If Marlon (Brown) has a question about what he is supposed to do, because sometimes it gets confusing. I started out at the slot, moved to flanker and then split end. After a while it all starts to run together where you've got to take a deep breath and think about it."

Put Durham in the camp who believes Brown is in for a breakout year.

The sophomore from Memphis struggled his first year with the Bulldogs, both picking up the system and adjusting to playing against athletes the caliber of which he never saw play in high school.

"Marlon's a hard worker and has done everything you need and that he's been asked to do," Durham said. "He came in with a lot of hype, but he stayed humble and he's continued to work at what he can to improve."

Being a proverbial coach on the field should actually feel natural for Durham.

This spring, the 6-foot-5, 209-pound Bulldog wideout served as a student teacher at Oconee County Middle School.

"That was great. I enjoyed it," Durham said. "I had a great group of students and my mentor teacher was amazing. I could not have asked for anything greater. It was a great experience."

Durham laughed that it did take his students about a week for the allure of having a Georgia Bulldog football player as teacher to start to lose its shine.

"After the first week everything calmed down," Durham said. "They let me do what I was there to do, which was help them any way I could."

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