ATHENS — Odell Thurman, one of the most talented but star-crossed Georgia football players this century, is back with the program.

Thurman has joined the team as an intern with the strength and conditioning staff, according to coach Kirby Smart. The team is limited to five full-time members of the strength and conditioning staff, so Thurman will be supplementing that.

“He’s allowed to do what an intern does,” Smart said. “And we’re glad to have Odell helping out in the weight room, assisting in the roles that he’s allowed to.”

Thurman was first-team All-SEC in 2003 and second-team All-SEC in 2004. The highlight of his career came in 2003, when he returned an interception against Auburn for a 99 yard-touchdown.

Odell Thurman only played one full season with the Cincinnati Bengals. (NFL/file photo)/Dawgnation)

This came after a rocky start to Thurman’s career. He was dismissed from the team in March 2002, but eventually returned after a stint at Georgia Military College.

After emerging as a star as a sophomore and junior, Thurman declared for the draft after his junior season. The Cincinnati Bengals selected him in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft.

Thurman had a big rookie season, having a hand in 98 tackles while making 5 interceptions and forcing 5 fumbles. But then off-field problems hit again, first with a suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, then banishment for a season, before being reinstated in 2008, only to be waived by the Bengals. He did not play for another NFL team.

Nearly a decade later, Thurman is back in football, this time back in Athens.