Scout Q&A: Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry

Aaron Curry (AP/Rick Havner)

The 2009 NFL Draft is extremely deep at the linebacker position and Wake Forest's Aaron Curry is a major reason why NFL teams are excited for the April spectacle. In this exclusive Q&A, Scout.com's Chris Steuber spoke with Curry about his standout senior year, the process of meeting NFL scouts during the college football season, what he wants to work on during the offseason and much more.


An imposing figure on the football field, Curry has been dominant during his career at Wake Forest.
Brian Westerholt/Sports On Film

Chris Steuber: I know this is the week you’re taking finals, and I appreciate you taking some time out to speak with me; how are your finals going?

Aaron Curry: They’re going good; I got one more on Saturday.

CS: I bet you’re counting down the days until it’s all over?

Curry: I know, I can’t wait; I can’t wait. It’s going to be an awesome feeling.


After an outstanding senior campaign, Curry was awarded the Dick Butkus award, as the countries top linebacker.
Steve Dykes/Wake Forest Athletics

CS: What a great season you’ve put together this year; 101 tackles, 15 for a loss, 2.5 sacks and an interception. For your great effort you were awarded the Dick Butkus award. How gratifying was it for you to be named the nation’s top linebacker and to be presented the award by Butkus himself?

Curry: That was one of the greatest things to happen to me since I’ve been at Wake. It was amazing to meet Dick Butkus in person. To think that he actually flew down to hand me the award himself was a great feeling. For him to take the time out and come and see me; it seemed like he wanted to meet me just as bad as I wanted to meet him.

CS: All the accolades that you’ve received and the numbers that you posted, how would you sum up your career at Wake Forest in one word?

Curry: [Pause]… Dominant. I think I’ve had a dominant career here ever since my freshman season. I learned the game fast, and God blessed me with extreme talent and the ability to run fast and be big at the same time.

CS: At the beginning of the year, every team sets out to win a National Championship, and for an instance this season you guys were nationally ranked. How disappointed are you that in your final season at Wake Forest your team finished 7 – 5, and are reduced to play in the EagleBank Bowl?

Curry: As a team, we feel like we let each other down. We set our expectations so high that I think we lost focus on how we needed to accomplish our goals and didn’t pay attention to taking one game at a time. But to play Navy in the EagleBank Bowl isn’t as bad as some people make it out to be. We get to be home for Christmas, which we haven’t realized for the last two of three seasons.

CS: If you look at it like that, you’re right, Wake Forest and Navy will play the first Bowl game of the season. I can see that being a good thing.

Curry: Definitely, the good thing about this Bowl is that we’ll be able to see our families on Christmas, and when we play, everyone will be watching. It’s going to be an awesome feeling for me to be home with my family; it’s been a while since I’ve been able to do that. The game itself is our last chance to show everyone that Wake has grown and that we play good ball.

CS: Did you surpass what you thought you would be able to accomplish at Wake Forest, or is it exactly how you envisioned it?

Curry: [Pause]… I think I’ve achieved most of my individual goals. I came in barely recruited as a linebacker, and I’m leaving as the nation’s best linebacker. I think I’ve accomplished everything, and the only thing left now is a Bowl victory.

CS: After your Bowl game on December 20th, I’m sure you will probably take a little time off before you start training for the offseason. But at any point during the season, or even now, have you thought about what lies ahead and the impact it will have on your future?

Curry: The only thing that I’ve really thought about is that I’m going to take two or three days off after the bowl game and then I’ll go out to Athlete’s Performance in Arizona and train. As far as looking ahead to the NFL, I’ve tried to avoid that. I know if I thought about the NFL during the season, I wouldn’t haven’t done as well as I did.

CS: As well as you did this season, there are still two other linebackers in the country that dominate the discussion, James Laurinaitis and Rey Maualuga. How do you think you compare with them?

Curry: I never get into comparing myself with the other linebackers in the nation. If you get tied up into that, you forget about what you have to do yourself. Coach Lambert has always instilled into me to just take care of my business and do all the things that I do right, and everything will take care of itself.

CS: Do you pay attention to any of the analysis, prognostication or rankings?

Curry: Not really, but my friends always tell me about things they see on the Internet and what they think. My friends all want me to play for their favorite NFL team. I try not to get too much into that, because I know no matter what all that stuff says; if I don’t perform well it doesn’t mean anything.

CS: I think it’s safe to say at this point that everyone in the country knows who Aaron Curry is. But if you had 20 seconds to describe yourself as a player, what would you say?

Curry: I would say that I’m an extremely dominant force against the run, very fast in the pass game, one of the few guys who can get down on the line of scrimmage and rag doll O-Linemen and be a force against tight ends. I can play against the slot receiver. I love to lay a big hit on everybody and try to jar the ball loose. I’m also very passionate about the game. I’m not out there just because I have to be, I’m out there because I want to be out there; I love being out there.

CS: Is there one aspect of your game that you believe is more dominant than another?

Curry: I wouldn’t say that there’s a part of my game that I’m more dominant at. Well, if you try to block me with one man, that’s not going to happen… [Laughs]. I see myself as a Julius Peppers at the SAM linebacker. If you put one man on me, they’re not going to be able to block me.

CS: Did you have the opportunity to meet with scouts during the season?

Curry: Yeah, when they come in and watch film, Coach Grobe always finds a way for me to bump into them or he’ll just push me in the film room with them. We will just talk about whatever game they’re watching and the techniques that I play in. A lot of them have great things to say about my style of play and for me to just stay focused on college football. They say that the NFL will come and to try not to think about it during the season.

CS: A lot of people don’t know the process when a student athlete meets with a professional scout on campus. Take me inside the classroom if you would and explain what happens when you watch film with a scout?

Curry: I would say it’s like meeting with a professor one-on-one. After you take a test, it’s like being there when they grade it and for every mistake that you make and for every good thing that you did, they ask you a question about it. They’ll ask you, “Why do you use your hands so much?” and I tell them that Coach Lambert is coaching me to use my hands at all times. That’s pretty much what it is; it’s like going in with your professor while they’re grading your test.

CS: Is that a nerve-wracking experience for you?

Curry: It was the first time that I did it. I was just worried about what I was going to say or what they were going to say to me. But Coach Grobe had me doing it so much that I got used to it. Coach Grobe just told me to go in with the scouts and be myself. He told me that when I leave those sessions, the scouts all love my personality and my handshake.

CS: [Laughs]… I bet you have a bear grip?

Curry: Yeah, that’s what most of them say… [Laughs].

Curry’s ability to be a disruptive force all over the field have made him popular in the film room with professional scouts.
Brian Westerholt/Sports On Film

CS: Do you have film sessions with the same scouts from teams that regularly attend games or has it been multiple scouts from numerous teams?

Curry: It’s been multiple scouts. I’ve seen scouts from the Lions, Falcons, Dolphins, Patriots and Jaguars; they sent two or three scouts at a time. I’ve met with almost every team and like I said, a few teams have sent two or three scouts.

CS: Did those scouts explain the teams’ defensive philosophies to you in those meetings and how you may fit in those defenses?

Curry: Nobody has really gone into depth of what they do in their defense. They all just ask me if I can play inside or at the WILL ‘backer position in a 4-3 or at what they call the MAC in a 3-4 and I tell them that I can. That’s pretty much all they’ve asked; nobody has gone into coverages and schemes just yet.

CS: That part is coming; it’s coming very soon, especially at the Scouting Combine.

Curry: Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard… [Laughs].

CS: You’re a polished prospect with a lot of great qualities, but you know your game better than anyone. Is there an element that you would like to define more during the offseason?

Curry: I’d like to get quicker. I want to move like a cat, just get quicker.

CS: So you basically want to improve your footwork?

Curry: Yeah, my footwork; right now I have the explosion to get going, but I want to be able to change direction in the blink of an eye. That will be a huge focus of my training.

CS: That’s more with your hips though; do you feel a bit stiff?

Curry: Yeah, I want to get my hips looser than what they are now. Since the summer, I’ve been stretching three times a day with our training staff here. I’ve been stretching my hips out, my quads, hamstrings and lower back; just making sure I’m always loose.

CS: Is there a player or players in the NFL today that you believe you have the same skill set as?

Curry: Oh man… [Pause]. I’ve always seen myself as the linebacker version of Julius Peppers, because of my size and my speed. I also believe I have the enthusiasm and leadership qualities of Ray Lewis. I would say that I’m a combination of Julius Peppers and Ray Lewis.

CS: The attributes of those two players would make up one great defender, but personally, after watching you over the years, your game to me is reminiscent of Tampa Bay Buccaneers All-Pro Derrick Brooks.

Curry: Oh yeah, that’s awesome too.

CS: The way he plays the game and the way you play the game, it’s eerily similar. The playmaking ability that you possess and the rage you demonstrate on the field, you’re a clone of Brooks.

Curry: I’ll accept that, that’s cool with me… [Laughs].

CS: Looking ahead to a hectic offseason and the training that you will endure, what do you want to achieve in the coming months that will put you in a better position next April?

Curry: I want to come out of the offseason knowing that I gave it my all. When it comes down to performing at the Combine, I want to be confident that I worked hard enough, so I don’t have to worry about anything. I’ve always been able to make sure that I’m having fun no matter what I’m doing; never stress out. When people stress out they tend to make mistakes or they get a little nervous. I’m just going to be myself, show my personality and hope that everybody falls in love with me.

 

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: csteuber@scout.com.

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