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Originally published | Page modified April 30, 2009 at 3:38 AM

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Top Seahawks pick Aaron Curry: "I'm just getting started"

Linebacker Aaron Curry, selected No. 4 overall in the draft, is introduced in Seattle. The Seahawks also agree to a deal with cornerback Ken Lucas, who played for them for four seasons.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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RENTON — The Seahawks welcomed their highest draft pick in 12 years Monday morning and then in the afternoon announced the return of a familiar face.

Linebacker Aaron Curry was introduced at the team's lakefront headquarters with a sharp suit, an easy sense of humor and the irrepressible smile of a North Carolina kid once considered too small to play football who finally hits the big time.

Curry's arrival was followed by the return of cornerback Ken Lucas, who agreed to re-sign with Seattle, the team that originally drafted him in 2001. Lucas played the previous four seasons for Carolina, which signed him as a free agent from the Seahawks in 2005.

Terms of Lucas' contract were not announced, and his agent did not return phone messages. The Seahawks also signed fullback Justin Griffith to a one-year contract. Griffith played for Greg Knapp, Seattle's new offensive coordinator, in Atlanta and Oakland.

Lucas, who has twice intercepted six passes in a season, will compete with Josh Wilson and Kelly Jennings for the starting cornerback position opposite Marcus Trufant. Griffith provides a proven fullback after the free-agent departure of Leonard Weaver.

While those two signings provide veteran seasoning, Curry is the high-profile rookie who had everyone's attention as soon as he walked into the locker room.

"Somebody kept screaming out, 'Nice suit,' " Curry said. "I was really enjoying it just knowing that they were relaxed."

Curry was chosen out of Wake Forest by the Seahawks with the fourth overall pick — Seattle's highest since taking Shawn Springs No. 3 overall in 1997. It is the highest a linebacker has been taken in the draft since 2000 when Washington picked LaVar Arrington with the second overall pick. You'll have to pardon Curry for basking in the moment just a little bit because he still remembers all those times he was told he was too small for big-time football while growing up in North Carolina.

"I'm just a little kid from Fayetteville that nobody believed was big enough living out his dream," Curry said. "And I'm just getting started."

There's a chip on his shoulder, he'll tell you. Actually, there's more than one. He recalled getting cut from his seventh-grade football team because he wasn't big enough, and when he did get to college, he never forgot that Wake Forest was the only ACC school to recruit him out of high school.

"I wanted to punish every team in the ACC for not coming by to say, 'Hi,' " he said.

Curry was appraised as a potential third-round pick in the NFL draft in 2008 when he asked for an evaluation after his junior season, and he returned to school.

His mom was the biggest reason for that. Chris Curry is a high-school biology teacher who set getting a degree as a priority for her children. Aaron Curry is her youngest son, and if there's one thing you should know about him, it's that Mom always gets her way.

"I definitely take pride in being a Mama's boy," Curry said.

Make that a 254-pound Mama's boy who can run 40 yards in 4.5 seconds and as a senior was chosen the Butkus Award winner as the nation's top linebacker. He is a strong tackler who excels in coverage and doesn't mind wading hip-deep into the scrum at the line of scrimmage. His game's got no corners, that's how well-rounded Curry is, and when coach Jim Mora was asked for a point of reference, he couldn't come up with a player to compare his new strongside linebacker.

"I think he's unique," Mora said. "We'll see what he becomes. Some day, they'll be comparing people to him."

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

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