David Curry was getting the knack for playing linebacker for Georgia Tech this past spring when something bad happened to his left thumb.
“Basically going in on a tackle and wrapped up and a bunch of people came and hit it and it exploded and, yeah, had to have surgery,” Curry said.
It turns out the recovery for an exploded digit – at least Curry’s – is shorter than you might guess. After surgery, Curry rehabbed the injury and was on the field for the start of preseason practice August 3. He’s in a competition with Bruce Jordan-Swilling for a starting job at the “will” (weakside) linebacker spot.
“He’s made some plays,” coach Paul Johnson said of Curry. “I’ve noticed him. He was playing pretty well in the spring when he got hurt.”
For Curry, injury has been a subtext of his career since coming to Tech from Buford High in 2015. Curry redshirted the 2015 season, played all 13 games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, starting one game and finishing with 12 tackles. On the first play of the 2017 spring game, however, he severely sprained his ankle.
In the 2017 preseason, he suffered a fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his right foot. After that injury, he ended up having surgeries to repair the sprain and the fracture. He missed the entire season.
“Basically all I do is get hurt, right?” Curry said, showing an unusual maturity to joke about an experience that is typically frustrating and discouraging.
Curry’s account of the thumb injury is cringe-inducing, if also enthusiastic.
“Basically, I lost my whole nail and my nail bed, it was down to the bone,” he said. “It was just with the pressure, it exploded.”
He said after the injury, he removed his glove and “the tip of my thumb was just holding on by a little teeny thread.” He called over trainer Mark Smith, whom Curry said wrapped a towel around it.
“It wasn’t that bad,” Curry said.
Curry’s surgeon “recreated my nail bed so I have a nail again,” he said. In four weeks, he said, he began growing a new thumbnail. Not long after, he was back to running and lifting weights.
“It was fine,” he said. “It was awesome to be back out so soon.”
Curry has found a fit with new defensive coordinator Nate Woody’s scheme. Curry was recruited to play nickel back after playing safety at Buford, but ended up playing linebacker as a redshirt freshman. After playing at 185 pounds in high school, he’s now up to 217.
“Once it kind of clicked, this spring, it clicked,” he said, snapping his fingers for emphasis. “I was moving, making a lot of plays, so I really feel like spring is when it really hit and I turned it on.”
As long as Curry can stay healthy, he could be a difference maker. Johnson’s praise is typically measured, so for him to say that Curry was playing well is meaningful.
He’d love to start, but anticipates that playing time will be shared. Behind him and Jordan-Swilling is Jakob Brashear.
“You’re going to be rotating so much because (Woody) is run-run-run, and he wants us to fly to the ball, so everybody’s going to be rotating and hopefully we have two or three or maybe even four deep,” Curry said.
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