Thirty minutes into Saturday’s resumption of the National Football League draft, former Georgia receiver Kris Durham was at his Calhoun residence watching the selections on television with his parents and his uncle.
“He gets this call, and all of a sudden he jumps up and starts going, ‘Shhh! Shhh!’” Janet Durham said. “Then he starts saying, ‘Yes, sir. Yes, sir.’ So you kind of know what’s going on. It’s one of the greatest experiences you will have as a parent, watching your child get a chance at his dream.”
Durham, who was not invited to the NFL combine in February, defied the various draft projections Saturday by getting selected early in the fourth round by the Seattle Seahawks. The 6-foot-5, 216-pounder was coming off a torn labrum and finishing up his major in middle school education this time last year, but he was picked before more touted Southeastern Conference players such as Florida safety Ahmad Black, Ole Miss defensive tackle Jerrell Powe, South Carolina defensive end Cliff Matthews and Auburn offensive tackle Lee Ziemba.
A more recognized SEC receiver, Auburn’s Darvin Adams, wasn’t even drafted.
CBS and NFLdraft.com each pegged Durham as the No. 31 receiving prospect, which is borderline between a late-round pick and a free agent, but he was the 12th receiver taken. The first receiver drafted was teammate A.J. Green, who was picked fourth overall by Cincinnati after electing to bypass his senior season.
The most productive four-year receivers in Georgia history are Terrence Edwards, Fred Gibson and Brice Hunter, and Durham fared better in the draft than all three.
“It’s definitely surreal,” Durham said. “I’m still a little speechless, and it took me a few seconds to realize what was happening.”
Durham had never been to the Pacific Northwest until visiting Seattle early last month.
“When I got there, I immediately sat down and talked with their GM and Coach [Pete] Carroll,” he said. “They told me how I would fit in their offense and how they planned to use me, so it was definitely a productive trip.”
After totaling 32 catches in his first three seasons, Durham had 32 last year for 659 yards and three touchdowns. He had 17 catches for 324 yards and two scores during Georgia’s first four games, when Green was sitting out because of an NCAA suspension.
Matthew Stafford, Mohamed Massaquoi and Rennie Curran were among the many former and current Bulldogs who congratulated Durham following the pick.
“We were all a little taken back,” he said. “It shows that hard work does pay off, and I’m just fortunate enough to be in this situation.”
Georgia wound up having six players selected — Green, outside linebacker Justin Houston (Kansas City in the third round), inside linebacker Akeem Dent (Atlanta in the third), offensive lineman Clint Boling (Cincinnati in the fourth), Durham and fullback Shaun Chapas (Dallas in the seventh). The Bulldogs went just 6-7 last season yet tied LSU for the most picks among SEC teams.
Dent was drafted by a franchise just a few minutes from his house, but the Durhams will have a more significant travel itinerary.
“A plane goes wherever, and we’re not afraid to fly,” Janet said. “Words cannot describe how proud we are of Kris.”
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...