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