- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
Editor’s note: As we approach national signing day and consider the future of Georgia’s football program, we’ll also look backward into the Bulldogs’ recruiting history. During the next few weeks, we’ll talk with several former Georgia standouts about their experiences as recruits. Today we feature receiver Kris Durham, who played for the Bulldogs between 2006 and 2010.
ATHENS, Ga. -- Injuries prevented Kris Durham from becoming the star he hoped to be when he signed with Georgia in 2006, but he doesn’t seem to feel much regret about his time as a Bulldog.
His 659 receiving yards in 2010 as a senior helped him get picked in the NFL draft and he also met close friends Matthew Stafford, Shaun Chapas and Fred Munzenmaier, with whom he roomed in college before playing alongside Stafford and Chapas with the Detroit Lions this season.
Durham spoke with DawgNation about his experiences on the recruiting trail before deciding to become part of the Bulldogs’ highly touted 2006 signing class alongside players like Stafford, Chapas and Munzenmaier.
Here are some of his recollections:
Q: What do you remember about the recuiting process as an overall experience?
A: It was a fun experience. It’s a lot different now than it was when I was coming through because the media’s a lot bigger and you’ve got Facebook and Twitter and all that kind of crazy stuff. But it was fun. Getting to go visit these different schools and meeting players that you kind of looked up to, I remember -- and it’s bad to say -- but I was on my trip to Georgia Tech and I met Calvin Johnson and I was like, ‘Wow. This guy runs the ACC. This is one of the best receivers and he’s going to be a top draft pick. I remember meeting him and thinking that this was somebody I’d like to model my game after. He’s a lot bigger than me, but we’re about the same height.
I remember stuff like that and going on trips like Duke and getting to go to Cameron Indoor Arena. That was pretty neat. I got to go watch a basketball game between Wake Forest and Duke and Chris Paul was at Wake, and it was just an incredible game. I was like three rows up from the bench just going nuts. It was a good time. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing and I think everyone should take advantage of it if they get the opportunity.
Q: When did you get your first offer and who was it from?
A: Duke University in December of my junior year [2004-05].
Q: How far along in the recruiting process did you pick Georgia and why?
A: My kind of final three came down to Clemson, Auburn and Georgia and I kind of wrote off some of the other schools because other things happened. I may have not felt comfortable at the school or just other different reasons. I might have thought, ‘You know, I don’t think I’d fit in here if it wasn’t for football.’ Like at Duke, I loved Duke, loved the university, loved the coaching staff, but I thought, ‘If football’s taken away, would I be comfortable just be going to school at Duke?’ And I realized that I wouldn’t so that kind of knocked some schools like that out.
So it came down to Auburn, Clemson and Georgia and I got my offer from Georgia and knew that’s where I wanted to go. My dad ran track at Georgia, so I knew that’s where I wanted to go and that’s where I felt most comfortable with the players, the coaches and Athens in general. I loved everything about it and as soon as I got that offer, I knew that’s where I wanted to go, so I pulled the trigger within the next two days.
Q: When you look back at what your perception of Georgia was when you were a prospect and your actual experience at Georgia, how do those two compare?
A: It was above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for. If I could go back and do it all over again, even with the career that I had -- and I had a decent career. It was not what I wanted it to be, but we won a lot of games, which was most important, and I made lifelong friends. So I would choose Georgia 100 times over. It was the best college experience I could have ever asked for.
Q: Have you got a good story from the recruiting trail?
A: I was on my official visit to Georgia and Shaun Chapas and Fred Munzenmaier, who wound up being my roommates, were on the same visit. And I just remember we went to the Gala and afterwards we go back to the hotel room and we’re just sitting there and we’re all just talking and having a good time. And I remember thinking, ‘These guys have the potential to be my best friends in life.’
It’s just funny because I can remember thinking that then, like, ‘Wow, I really like these guys and I’m glad that we’re all going to be part of this signing class together.’ That was the moment that I realized that it was really about to happen, your lifelong goal of making it in college football is about to come true.
16hSam Khan Jr. and Derek Tyson