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Welcome to Seattle Mr. Curry
The more you’re around Aaron Curry, it’s easier to understand what it is that the Seahawks like so much about the linebacker from Wake Forest.
There’s just so much to like about the player – and person – that the team selected Saturday with the fourth pick overall in the NFL Draft.
That was apparent – again – Monday during Curry’s introductory news conference at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Curry couldn’t stop smiling as he sat between club president Tim Ruskell and coach Jim Mora. When it was his turn to talk, Curry was entertaining, analytical and even self-effacing.
The nattily attired Curry shared what it was like walking through the team’s posh headquarters for the first time.
“Guys were screaming, ‘Nice suit!’ ” he said. “I enjoyed it.”
He revisited his draft-day comment about being a “mama’s boy.”
“I have pride in being a mama’s boy,” Curry said – a comment that prompted his mother, Chris, to drop and shake her head as she sat in the front row next to Curry’s fiancée, Jamila Abdul-Hakim.
The best place to start in discussing Curry’s body of work is his body.
He entered Wake Forest as a 196-pound linebacker, only to exit as a 254-pound winner of the Butkus Award as the best linebacker in college football.
Asked for the secret to his transformation, Curry offered, “It was countless hours in the weight room. Countless hours in the cafeteria, eating everything I could get my hands on. Always working out, and eating. That’s what I did. I also did a lot of running. I did a lot of hills, running bleachers, pulling sleds, pushing sleds.”
That sculpted frame also comes with artwork.
At the scouting combine in February, Curry gave reporters a tour of his tattoos. There’s a barcode on his left shoulder for his favorite candy – Jujubes. There are the names of his brothers – Christopher and Brandon, one on each wrist. There’s the one on his right shoulder that says “Property of Chris Curry.” Just below it is an open space that was reserved for a picture of his mother – “was” being the operative word.
“She told me she’d beat me if I did,” Curry said.
Of more importance to the Seahawks, however, is how Curry can use that body to help the defense rebound from ranking 30th in the league last season.
Curry will line up at the strong-side spot that opened when Julian Peterson was traded to the Detroit Lions last month.
“He fits perfectly with what we want to do,” Mora said. “This is a guy that can run and is very good in pass coverage. We believe he has the ability to be a very good blitzer, as well.
“He sees the game well. He understands his position well. He’s a very complete football player.”
At one point, Mora was asked if there is a linebacker already in the league might remind fans of Curry.
“Not offhand. He is unique,” Mora said. “Someday, they’ll be comparing people to him.”
Curry wouldn’t go that far, but he did offer, “There are so many linebackers I stole something from and just put it all in one pile.” Then he rattled through a list that included Lawrence Taylor (relentless attitude on the field), Ray Lewis (leadership abilities and passion) and Derrick Brooks (athletic ability).
Whatever works, and it obviously has for Curry. Just ask the other members of his Wake Forest class.
“He’s a beast, man,” cornerback Alphonso Smith said at the combine. “If you talk to him or see him walking around, you probably wouldn’t think that. Just because of the way he carries himself, and he’s really quiet and very humble and really laid back.
“I call him ‘The Humble Beast.’ ”
In an ironic twist, Smith was the player selected by the Denver Broncos in the second round Saturday with a pick obtained in a trade with the Seahawks.
Smith also gives Curry high praise when it comes to the mental part of playing the game.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but Aaron Curry probably is the smartest football player in this draft,” Smith said. “Getting a chance to play with him for 4½ years, he’s really smart, he’s real competitive, he works hard and his confidence is off the charts.”
All things the Seahawks learned as they began peeling away the layers while dissecting Curry in their preparation for the draft.
“It was more of a grow-on-us deal,” Ruskell said after the news conference. “He really had a heck of a year last season, so you had to get through a few tapes to see the progress he had made from his junior season.
“The more you saw of him, you go, ‘Wow.’ He had just taken his game to another level. Then, with the feedback we were getting from the scouts and coaches, we realized this isn’t just another guy, this is a special guy.”
The club has what Ruskell calls “the Seahawks filter,” where prospects must meet a list of tough criteria.
“Then we’ll stick the bird on your (draft board) card,” Ruskell said. “There aren’t many. There might be 10 a year.”
This year, Curry wasn’t just one of them, he was the one the Seahawks selected in the first round in what Ruskell called a “no-brainer” decision.
“He’s a special kid,” Ruskell said. “And then he plays special, too.”
It hasn’t been as easy as Curry has made it look.
“When I look back at all the hard work I’ve done,” Curry said, “I understand why I’m standing here right now.”