September 21, 2010

Durham makes grade, on and off field

Kris Durham laughed that he knew just how to deal with an uncooperative student who refused to pay attention in class during his recent student teaching stint at Oconee County Middle School.

Of course, it helped that one of the youngster's cousins was a former teammate of Durham at Georgia.

"Yeah, there was one kid who just absolutely did not do his work. But I knew one of his cousins - Tyson Browning," Durham said. "I found that out and I was like "do I need to call Tyson right now?' I was like if 'you're not going to listen I'll make that call right this second.'"

Durham's lessons haven't been reserved for the classroom.

With A.J. Green out one more game before his four-game suspension is over, Durham has become Aaron Murray's primary target all while serving as a guiding light to the Bulldogs' younger receivers.

Head coach Mark Richt appreciates what he's seen.

"He's always helping the younger guys when it comes to routes, defenses. He's like a second coach out there with the younger receivers. It's nice to have him out there. He's done a tremendous job our first three games and is becoming a playmaker in the offense. He's had some unbelievable catches, some touchdowns, and he's making me look good out there," Richt said. "I think he's feeling more involved [getting to play this year], and he's definitely helpful with the younger receivers. He keeps guys up. I was pretty down after the last game and he told me he still had my back. He's always encouraging."

He's also producing.

Heading into Saturday night's game at Mississippi State (7 p.m., FSN), Durham is the Bulldogs' leading receiver with 13 catches for 260 yards and a touchdown after posting a career-best performance against the Razorbacks. Last week, Durham had a career-best performance with five catches for 101 yards.

"I hope I've open some eyes but at the same time I'm just pleased to have this opportunity," Durham said. "I'm just happy coaches have seen fit to put me in position to make some catches."

It certainly beats the alternative.

Durham redshirted in 2009 with a shoulder injury, that coming after he had to miss time in 2008 with ankle and hand injuries.

Had last year's injury not occurred, Durham's post-football career might already be underway.

An education major, Durham spent the spring doing his student teaching at nearby Oconee County Middle School where he taught Georgia history.

"To be honest, my dad is a coach and a teacher and that's one way I feel I can give back," Durham said. "I've had a lot of positive impacts from men and women in that field. The easiest way I can give back and show them my appreciation for it."

The Calhoun native still hopes to give pro ball a try.

But, just in case those plans don't work out, his back-up plan is already in place.

"I do like the teaching aspect," he said. "But sometimes it's hard keeping everybody motivated."

But that's one of the challenges Durham said he enjoys the most.

"That's the tough part because at that age they just care about one thing - what's going on in their life," he said. "But it's a lot of fun. They teach you and make you realize a lot of things about yourself. They've had a positive impact on me. I still think about the positive influence they had on me."

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