Studying is important to new California commit Jake Curhan. His father, Greg, went to Dartmouth. His mother, Randi, went to Penn. His oldest brother graduated from Dartmouth a year ago, and his second-oldest brother Noah was a freshman at Michigan this past year. Then, there’s Jake, who’s got a 3.86 GPA.
“There was one thing: Cal being the No. 1 public university in the country,” Curhan said when asked what clinched his commitment for the Golden Bears. “That’s important to me. Academics are important to my family. My oldest brother went to Dartmouth. My other brother’s at Michigan – which is the No. 3 public school, so I’m better – and both my parents went to Ivy League schools. Education is an important value in my family, and all my cousins and their parents. My whole family has gone to traditionally good schools. That was the first thing that stuck out. That stuck out the whole time. The whole time, I noticed that was really important in this process, for me.”
It comes as no surprise then, that Curhan is also a student of the game. Rather than hire someone to make his highlight film to send out to colleges, he pored over every single play in every single game. It made for a lot of late nights.
“That took a very long time,” said Curhan, after driving home from Berkeley, where he committed to head coach Sonny Dykes on Friday. “Our game film would get uploaded the day or a few days after every game, and every time that happened, I tried to stay on top of it, because when I got behind, it became even harder.
“I’d go through every single play of the game that I was in, and find good ones, taking notes. Every week, I’d pick out 10-20 plays from each game, put them aside and compile them as the year went on. I took some out, added some in, depending on how the season was progressing.”
At the start of the season, Curhan’s teammate at Larkspur (Calif.) Redwood – Arizona-bound Alex Kosinski -- told him that the key to good offensive line film was to “every play, just crush the guy in front of you,” Curhan said. That, the 6-foot-7, 305-pounder realized, was only partially true.
“In the beginning of the season, that was my though: ‘OK, I’m just going to crush everybody in front of me, and I’ll be alright.’ Although it helps with the play, it’s not going to get you a real long play,” said Curhan. “That’s what I realized. I can still block this guy really well, and then, once he’s out of the play, what’s the point of sticking with him? I’ll just move on to the next guy, so the play can go further.
“I think it’s my recognition, as the year went on, of how long to hold different blocks and when to move on to different blocks – flowing with the play in general – I think is what improved the most for me, this year.”
That recognition led to Curhan excelling at downfield blocking. Throughout his self-assembled film, Curhan routinely gets to the second level to block linebackers for his running backs, and that’s the part of his game that’s stuck out to the most to talent evaluators.
“It took a lot of time. To go through a whole game and watch every single play that you were in, that takes some time, especially with the O-line, where you should be making a block on every play,” Curhan said. “There were times where I’d be like, ‘That didn’t look as good as I thought it did,’ or ‘I didn’t actually do as well as I thought I did there,’ and there are other times where I would go, ‘I didn’t even remember this play, but this is really showing good ability to move in space and move to the second level.’
“I think the one thing, as the season went on, that I definitely started to notice more, by watching all that tape, was that I started to flow from the first level to the second level a whole lot better. Going through and having to watch all that tape definitely helps benefit how I play, because I had to watch all these plays to see how I was doing.”
Going through his own tape also helped Curhan recognize his own weaknesses, and act upon them.
“My lower body strength, going through this process, that’s the one thing that has been a question point with everyone I’ve talked to,” Curhan said. “It’s evident, from watching the film, that my lower body strength isn’t what it needs to be. It’s something I’m definitely working on, and hopefully, I’ll be able to get it up for this season, and going into college. If it’s not where it needs to be by the time I’m in college, I’m pretty sure that Damon Harrington can get it there. He’s the real deal, as far as strength coaches go.”