Curl com­fort­able with choice of UA

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - RICHARD DAVEN­PORT

The 10th in a se­ries pro­fil­ing new­com­ers in the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs foot­balll team.

When fresh­man cor­ner­back Kamren Curl an­nounced his com­mit­ment to the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs on Jan. 19, there were sev­eral peo­ple at Musko­gee High School in Ok­la­homa up­set with the de­ci­sion.

Curl, 6-2, 180 pounds, of Musko­gee, Okla., chose the Uni­ver­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville, over more than 20 other schol­ar­ship of­fers from schools in­clud­ing Texas, Ok­la­homa, TCU, Ole Miss and Ne­braska. ESPN rated him a 3-star prospect and the No. 53-ranked ath­lete in the na­tion.

Many at his school thought

he was go­ing to be a Sooner, and he teased them by pick­ing up a Ok­la­homa cap at a news con­fer­ence be­fore putting on a Ra­zor­backs cap.

“Some were pretty mad be­cause when I an­nounced it I picked up the OU hat first and sat it back down and peo­ple were scream­ing when I picked it up and sat it back down,” Curl said. “I heard some peo­ple walked out when I put it down. They were pretty mad.”

Sev­eral asked why the Hogs.

“I told them that’s who I was the most com­fort­able with at the end of the day,” Curl said.

His re­la­tion­ship with de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Paul Rhoads and Coach Bret Bielema was the main rea­son for Curl’s de­ci­sion. He pri­vately com­mit­ted to the coaches dur­ing an in-home visit Jan. 12.

“It was re­ally just get­ting to know the coaches, Coach Rhoads and Coach B,” Curl said. “I got to know them bet­ter than all of the other coaches that were re­cruit­ing me. They’re real cool peo­ple and they’re hon­est.”

His par­ents, Adri­enne and Greg, were on board with their son’s de­ci­sion to be a Ra­zor­back.

“It felt good be­cause that helped me be 100 per­cent with my de­ci­sion and feel

con­fi­dent about it.”

Musko­gee Coach Rafe Watkins was hired as the Roughers’ coach in 2014 af­ter pro­duc­ing a 133-24 record and win­ning four state ti­tles at Guthrie, Okla. It didn’t take long for him to re­al­ize Curl was a spe­cial tal­ent.

“I came in here when he was a fresh­man and through spring ball we could tell he was go­ing to be spe­cial kid,” Watkins said. “He was al­ready 6-foot, 6-1, but he was light. But we knew he was go­ing to be one of our starters as a wide re­ceiver or a DB and he ended up be­ing both. He was a three-year starter and twoway starter for us.”

“We knew he had a chance to be pretty spe­cial be­cause

his arms were long, he high-pointed the ball re­ally well. He had a good foot­ball IQ.”

Watkins, who is en­ter­ing his 25th year of coach­ing, said Curl stands out more than oth­ers he’s coached.

“Over­all, he’s the best de­fen­sive back I’ve coached that’s for sure,” Watkins said.

This year’s Hogs’ de­fen­sive back class of Curl, Chevin Cal­loway, Jar­ques McClel­lion, Mon­taric Brown, Korey Her­nan­dez, Jor­don Cur­tis and Der­rick Mun­son had more than 125 schol­ar­ship of­fers com­bined.

“We’re ex­cited and con­fi­dent that we can come in and make a dif­fer­ence and make the whole de­fens bet­ter,” Curl said. “We all feel like we have the skill set to come in and help right away the coaches be­lieve that too.”

Curl’s ver­sa­til­ity could help him see the field early.

“They told me to fo­cus on the nickel spot and bound­ary cor­ner,” Curl said.

His fa­ther was the de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor for Musko­gee’s ninth-grade team and a de­fen­sive as­sis­tant for the var­sity last sea­son. Greg didn’t cut his son any slack

while grow­ing up.

“He knew what I was ca­pa­ble of,” Curl said. “When I wasn’t per­form­ing to the best of my abil­ity, he would get on me.”

He recorded 89 tack­les, 6 pass breakups, 3 in­ter­cep­tions, 2 re­turned for touch­downs as a se­nior. He also had 46 re­cep­tions for 533 yards and 6 touch­downs.

Watkins said Curl was very coach­able and pre­pared the right way for games.

“He was a good prac­tice player,” Watkins said. “Most kids will play hard on Fri­day nights. but it’s that Mon­day through Thurs­day that you’re look­ing at and try­ing to do things right, and he al­ways had good prac­tices as well and was al­ways a stu­dent of the game.”

“He did ev­ery­thing that was asked about him and that’s why he’s in the sit­u­a­tion he’s in now by be­ing able to be at the Uni­ver­sity of Arkansas.”

Curl won’t be one that has to be the cen­ter of at­ten­tion.

“He’s re­ally a quiet kid,” Watkins said. “I wouldn’t say he’s a loner, but he doesn’t have to be in the mid­dle of ev­ery­thing.”

Curl

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette file photo

Kamren Curl (right) of Musko­gee, Okla., makes an in­ter­cep­tion against Fayet­teville in 2015. Curl is now a fresh­man cor­ner­back for the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs.

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