2009 NFL Draft Diary, Entry No. 1
Aaron Curry modeled his game after Lawrence Taylor and Julius Peppers
Best part of draft preparation so far has been working with a nutritionist
Workout partners in Arizona include Jason Smith and Brian Orakpo
As a walkup to the NFL draft on April 25, SI.com writer Ted Keith has arranged to get diary entries from Aaron Curry, an All-America linebacker at Wake Forest who is projected to go high in the first round. In them he'll talk about his preparation for the combine, his workouts for NFL teams and his hopes and fears leading to and including draft day.
I grew up with my mom and two of my half-brothers, one of whom was Christopher Curry, who played wide receiver at North Carolina from 2001 to 2004. I've always modeled my game after Lawrence Taylor and Julius Peppers, two guys who starred defensively at North Carolina, but Carolina didn't recruit me -- they said I was too small. My dad, Reggie Pinkney, played football at East Carolina and then in the NFL for five years with the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Colts from 1977 to 1981. He wasn't really present in my upbringing but he talked to me a lot in high school and just told me to keep my head on straight and keep working. We never really talked about his career in the NFL, and I never really paid attention to the fact that he had been in the NFL. We still don't really talk about it. I just knew that he played and that was about it.
I was projected as a third-round NFL pick if I had come out last year. My mom [Chris] is a high school teacher [in Fayetteville, N.C.] and she always taught me to finish whatever I started, so it wasn't a hard decision for me to finish school at Wake Forest and then go pro.
I never focused on the NFL or read the draft magazines, like some players do. I focused on being the best all-around linebacker I could be -- getting stronger, playing faster, becoming an all-around linebacker. I am glad I didn't do this last year. My decision to come back to school was absolutely the right one. I really benefited from that, and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I feel like I'm in a much better position now facing the combine than last year. My maturity as a person and as a player has increased significantly since the end of last season. I was able to use my senior year to show everybody I'm better than I thought I was, and now I have the maturity to handle the business side of things the right way, too.
I got my degree in four and a half years because I redshirted my freshman season. My last exam was on December 15 at 2 p.m. That's something you don't forget. The class was social problems, and when I walked out of there I said, 'It's all football all the time now.'
After Christmas I came out from Fayetteville to Arizona for a week before API [Athlete Performance Institute] actually opened so that I could get used to the time zone and the heat. I realized I was in the NFL world when I woke up the first day and didn't have to go to class and didn't have any homework to turn in.
I have an apartment down the street from the API facility that Octagon, my agency, got for me. When I first got out here I was with my girlfriend, Jamila, who graduated from Clemson. She helped me get my stuff organized, and make sure I didn't get homesick. We were on our own, just hanging out with each other. Like every young couple we went to the mall, went to the movies, played putt-putt. That was my first time playing putt-putt, and I had more fun than I thought I would. I was amazed at how hard it actually was to hit that little ball. They made that course so creative; there was one hole that had a door that opened and closed and I think it took me about 15 shots to finish it.
Day 1 at API was orientation day. There was a guy there to make sure we were in the right place at the right time. I met the speed coach and nutritionist, we did a test where they put us on the treadmill with an oxygen mask and they tested our lung capacity, tested our flexibility. We ate lunch and then did a very small workout, just working on running for them. Every day after that has been pretty much the same routine.
I'm up at 6:30 pretty much every day. Surprisingly, there are some days where we get a lot of down time. Maybe you'll get a trainer to work with you or do some preparation for the Wonderlic test. Guys that went through all the All-Star games had their prep for that, but I'm not nervous at all -- I trust my intelligence and my common sense and my ability to think under pressure.
As a player, I've always been confident in my ability and my work ethic to get better. I put my faith in speed coaches and strength coaches and then just go with the flow. I try not to worry about things I don't do well. Instead, I just treat it like every day is my first time. I've got to get stronger and I've got to get faster.
The best part of being here so far is the nutritionist. It's awesome. They teach you how it's all about what you eat and how you eat. And the food is wonderful. I haven't had a meal yet where I've been disappointed. Every meal's been one of those where I wish there was more laying around. They have you eat according to what you decided to do. If you decided you wanted to gain weight, you eat a certain number of calories. If you want to lose weight, you do the same. I'm hoping to limit my body fat. It's not down to where I want it. They assure me that as long as I continue working I'll burn my body fat. Tonight my dinner is a big piece of steamed salmon on top of steamed vegetables, and I can't wait.
A lot of the other players who are here now didn't show up until after the bowl games and more guys will show up after the Senior Bowl. So far, I'm having a great time working out with all the fellas, we're really bonding well, keeping each other motivated. In my group I have Jason Smith from Baylor -- I played against him the first game of the season -- but the rest of the guys, like AQ Shipley, Brian Orakpo, Chase Coffman, are guys I'd only heard of or seen them on TV. We came to the conclusion the other day that the bonds that athletes share is unlike any other. No matter how much we compete on game days, we realize we have something in common to go through what we go through.
We all look at it the same: We're all on the same level and trying to advance ourselves financially. We all know this is the most important time in our lives. There's a really good vibe here.
We haven't been able to hang out together too much away from the field. We were supposed to go to Dave and Buster's last weekend, but the strength coach put a whoopin' on us in the weight room with a very intense upper body workout. I couldn't move my body when we were done. We did bench pressing four times for 30 seconds, just keep moving the weight until it just won't move any more, lat pulldowns.
It's a workout that will have you wondering what you got yourself into. As soon as you get done lifting you ask yourself why did I pick this place. We all say that to ourselves, but it's because we all realize we've got to make money.
Tomorrow will be the same old routine: work out hard, eat very well, talk to my friends and family to stay motivated and disciplined and keep my eyes on the prize and make sure nothing's stopping me from reaching my goals.
Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org