Earlier this season, when he was struggling to find his place as a part-time starter and special teams man, Julius Curry, Michigan's fifth-year senior strong safety, felt like he was not playing up to his potential.
"I think the main thing is I was playing well, but I wanted to be more involved," he
said at Michigan's Monday football luncheon.
Curry turned a corner in the Wolverines' 10-7 victory over Utah Saturday in the Big
House. He tied a school record first set by Brian Carpenter against Notre Dame in 1981
with his eight punt returns. Curry also intercepted two passes, including one to clinch
Michigan's victory with just over 1 minute remaining.
He was rewarded for his efforts by being named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the
Curry, 6 feet 1 and 195 pounds, totaled 105 yards on his eight punt returns, an average
of 13.1, the fifth-best single-game mark in Michigan history and the third-highest total in
the annals of Michigan Stadium. He was a step away from going the distance on a couple
of different occasions.
His two interceptions thwarted the Utes and their quarterback, Lance Rice, as the
Michigan defense picked up the slack for out-of-kilter Wolverine offense.
"I wanted to be making bigger plays rather than just making a tackle," he said. "I
wanted to help the offense out on defense as well as punt returns. I was doing well on
punt returns, but on defense I need to stand out more. That is what my team deserves
Curry suffered a shoulder injury against Western Michigan last season. The injury set
him back as much physically as mentally. He recently went to Michigan coach Lloyd Carr
to talk about reversing his downward spiral.
"He said that I have to play like the player that I am and the player that I was in 1999
and 2000," Curry said. "I took that and put it in my back pocket. I said I am going to go
out there and do it. I have been playing good, but I have not been playing great.
"This is my fifth year, and now I have to play great."
Curry, a product of Detroit Bishop Gallagher, feels an even greater sense of urgency
now that the Big Ten race is around the corner. Michigan opens against Illinois on
Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.
"We are very excited about the Big Ten," he said. "There are a lot of teams that are
doing very well this year, like Ohio State and Michigan State. Unfortunately, Michigan
State lost last weekend (to Notre Dame). But they are doing really well.
"The first four games are over, and now we are just looking forward to the Big Ten,
which makes your season. We would like to go to the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl or
whatever bowl game that we can go to."
To reach those lofty heights, the Wolverines will continue to need that extra spice in
their arsenal, the spice Curry provides with his strong play in the secondary and on
"The previous games I felt I did my job and did not mess up too much," he said. "This
game, I was in position to make plays and I did. But, without those 10 other guys on the
field, there is no play to make."
Big Ten Player of Week
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