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Critics fuel Curtis' motivation
The week got off to a great start for the Sooners on the trail with the commitment of Phoenix Mountain Pointe offensive guard Natrell Curtis on Monday night.
Curtis was the most unsurprising commit for OU in a long time, talking about nothing but OU during the last couple of weeks. It was really just a matter of going public with it.
"I had some time to myself and prayed about it and asked a lot of people and felt like I was ready," Curtis said. "I knew it was OU so the coaches said there's no reason why I should keep waiting."
Curtis was committed to Washington until last month but even before his decommitment the Sooners were in great standing with him. OU put itself back into play following a great official visit two months ago.
Following coaching changes at Washington, it became even more apparent Curtis was going to be back on the open market but things really came together for Curtis and OU two weeks ago at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl practices in San Antonio.
OU had one commit in fellow Arizona high school product Mark Andrews from Scottsdale Desert Mountain, but the Sooners were also making the charge for Oakley (Calif.) Freedom five-star running back Joe Mixon.
The first night things started to become a lot more clear.
"The first night we're there Joe said he was going to commit," Curtis said. "The first night. He already knew. And then we watched the Sugar Bowl, and we were so excited. We just sort of knew."
Curtis said he knew the moment he stepped on OU's campus. He loved the game atmosphere and loved hanging around the players. He felt at home.
And when most schools backed off Curtis following his Washington pledge, OU coaches Bob Stoops, Tim Kish and Bill Bedenbaugh kept pushing forward. He called Stoops and Kish initially Monday night to commit before letting Bedenbaugh know last. His relationship was forged with Kish, but the Bedenbaugh influence is certainly there now.
"My relationship with him right now is great," Curtis said. "It's not like a recruiting thing. It's more like a father-son relationship. I feel like I can talk about anything with him. He's always there and always going to listen."
Curtis was a four-star offensive guard before being downgraded to a three-star recruit. He certainly has the size, but some schools have questioned his work ethic. He's ready to prove them wrong.
"I know what I can do, and I'm going to show everybody what I can do when I get to Norman," Curtis said.
Montgomery puts in the work with Paul
Curtis was the first offensive lineman to commit but wasn't the last one of the week when New Orleans St. Augustine tackle Joseph Paul did the same to OU on Wednesday night.
The Curtis commitment was not a surprise, but the name Paul hadn't really been in the conversation until the last week or so. Once it was discovered he was going to visit OU, though, almost everybody thought he would commit.
But he didn't even wait until his Jan. 17 weekend visit date and decided he was ready to be a Sooner now.
"I told my parents, my coaches and my best friends," Paul said. "They knew I wanted to go to OU so I decided it was time."
Paul is the work of first-year defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery, who put in the time with Louisiana schools during the spring. Montgomery liked Paul, but after Paul committed to Florida, the Sooners backed off for a bit.
Then about six weeks ago things started to get serious again with Paul and the Sooners. Even though he hasn't seen the campus, he's not worried about that.
"I don't have any concerns at all," Paul said. "That's not on my mind at all. I knew I wanted to go to OU, and I know I'll love it there."
Paul has been recruited by a lot of schools as an offensive guard, but his frame is perfect for a right tackle, which is what OU is recruiting him to be.
Paul is OU's fourth commit since the Sooners upset victory against Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, and it definitely made an impression.
"It was a real eye-opening experience for me," Paul said. "Alabama was such a big opponent. It was so cool to see that."
Paul isn't concerned about the fact a lot of schools backed off of him this season. He played well in the first five games and said an injury bothered him in the second half of the season.
With his commitment, it could make things easier for OU to land his teammate defensive tackle Courtney Garnett. But if you ask Paul, that was never an issue, either.
"He's going to be a Sooner," Paul said. "Trust me. There's no doubt. He's going to be a Sooner."
Garnett and Paul are both taking official visits to OU this weekend.