The Georgia wide receiver was student-teaching last spring at Oconee County Middle School and preparing for life after football whenever that might be.
Then he opened eyes as a senior by becoming a playmaker last season while A.J. Green sat out due to a four-game NCAA suspension.
He was still not among the more than 300 prospects invited to the NFL combine in February, but scouts noticed when he ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at Georgia’s pro day in March.
There was buzz about him. During a three-week stretch, he took pre-draft visits to what his agent said were 14 different teams.
His stock had risen. Maybe as high as the fifth-round some draft analysts projected.
Seattle didn’t wait that long, grabbing the 6-foot-5, 216-pound Durham with the 10th pick of the fourth round Saturday as the 12th receiver taken.
“I was speechless when it happened,” Durham said from his home in Calhoun less than an hour after talking to Seahawks’ brass including coach Pete Carroll. “Right now I’m still kind of shaken a little bit. I’m just really happy to get out there and get to work.”
Offensive lineman Clint Boling, another former Bulldog, went before Durham when Cincinnati tabbed him with the fourth pick of the fourth round, the No. 101 overall pick. Fullback Shaun Chapas also was taken Saturday in the seventh round at pick No. 220.
Boling was with family and friends at home in Alpharetta when he got the news.
“I kind of thought I was going to be drafted (Friday), but at this point it doesn’t really matter,” he said. “Now that I’m on a team I’ve got an opportunity to go play for the Bengals. It’s something I’m excited for.”
A Georgia team that went 6-7 last season had six players go in the three-day draft.
First-round receiver A.J. Green will join Boling in Cincinnati. Linebackers Justin Houston (Kansas City) and Akeem Dent (Atlanta) were drafted Friday in the third round.
Durham was the No. 107 overall pick. That’s better than Terrence Edwards, Fred Gibson and Brice Hunter, three of the top four in career receiving yards at Georgia, did in the draft when they came out. Edwards was an undrafted free agent. Gibson went later in the fourth round and Hunter was a seventh rounder.
“I had a productive season and thought I did well enough to be invited to the combine, but unfortunately I wasn’t,” said Durham, second on the team with 32 catches for 659 yards and three touchdowns. “That gave me a little chip on my shoulder for pro day. After I did well, I got to visit a few teams and Seattle was one of them. I went out there, met with the coaches. It was a first class organization from top to bottom. Loved everything about it. I’m just truly blessed to be a part of it.”
Former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, a close friend and former roommate, texted Durham to tell him that he deserved it.
Durham already has caught passes a couple of times in Gwinnett County leading up to the draft with Charlie Whitehurst, the former Clemson quarterback who could start for the Seahawks this season.
Whitehurst hails from Chattahoochee High School, the same school where Boling played.
The 6-foot-5, 308-pound Boling is the first Georgia offensive lineman drafted since 2007 and the highest drafted since Max Jean-Gilles went to Philadelphia in the fourth round in 2006 with the 99th pick.
Boling has 49 career starts, starting at left tackle, right tackle and right guard.
The Bengals plan to use him at guard initially.
“I feel he’ll come to Cincinnati and both add some depth and have the chance to compete on the interior of the line,” said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who said he “got some exposure,” to Boling when he coached at the Senior Bowl on the team that went up against Boling.
Boling was quick to point out the Bengals roster already is stocked with former Bulldogs beyond Green: defensive tackle Geno Atkins, offensive tackle Dennis Roland and defensive end Robert Geathers.
“I’m excited,” Boling said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”