Tracking Arkansas Comet

It took De'Anthony Curtis all of 4.41 seconds to make a lasting impression at the National Junior Combine held in San Antonio in January. That's how long it took for the running back from Camden, Ark., to run the fastest 40 time of the day.

Curtis' clocking was the best among 500 of the premier prospects in the Class of 2008 and it pushed him near the top of college recruiting boards across the country. It also underscored the fact you can't always judge a prospect by his numbers.

As a junior Curtis helped lead Camden Fairview High School to an 11-1 mark and the second round of the Class-5A state playoffs. His significance to the Cardinals' success couldn't be calculated by his stats alone, although they were hardly weak. He rushed for 568 yards and 11 touchdowns and compiled another 651 receiving yards with six touchdowns. He averaged nearly 200 all-purpose yards per game and returned four punts for TDs. His overall efforts earned Curtis All-State, All-Conference, and Class 5A Southwest Back Of The Year honors.

Curtis, who will be a four-year starter this fall, came into his junior campaign with a physical condition that forced him to sit out one game and be used primarily as a decoy in another.

"He missed two games," said Camden-Fairview head coach Buck James. "I take responsibility for that. We actually over trained his hamstrings to the point they were pulling on his back. He had to go through some therapy to try and loosen him up. His hamstrings got so tight that it hurt (his back) when he would just walk.

"We played him in our big game and just didn't give him the ball. We used him as a decoy. I think he had less than five touches that game. They didn't know he was hurt. We sat him out the next ball game and I mean we literally had to hold him out."

Curtis also made several early exits from Cardinal blowouts and played in a spread offense loaded with D-I prospects and designed to distribute the ball. Quarterback Jim Youngblood, who recently committed to Arkansas, threw for over 2,000 yards and ran for 820 yards.

"We had some other good athletes," James explained. "Our quarterback is a good athlete. Our tailback is a good athlete and our receiver is a good athlete. We spread the ball out, but the thing about it is that by half-time of most of the ball games we were already ahead of people. If he had been a guy we fed the ball to a lot there's no telling what his numbers would be. He's got gaudy film. He's got some film that will really open your eyes up from both his sophomore and junior years."

Curtis has the type of talent that jumps out from the screen. At 5-foot-9, 205 pounds, he is strong enough to take the ball between the tackles and carve out yards in tight quarters. He can also accelerate around the corner or catch the ball out of the slot.

"I tell you what he's as good a receiver as he is a running back," said James. "We run a spread offense and we probably play him in the slot more than we play him inside. We'll motion him from the backfield and things like that to get him the ball. We try to find as many different ways as we can to get him the ball. We really look at touches as much as anything, punt returns, kickoff returns, pass receiving yards, screeens, tunnels and from behind the center."

His combination of skills, speed, power and versatility make Curtis a target for colleges with a variety of needs. However his potential as a playmaker assure he'll see the football a lot.

"Most of the schools are recruiting me as a running back, but Tennessee has basically offered me as an athlete," Curtis said in an interview with Greg Powers of "I really like to pattern my game after Reggie Bush. He can play all over the field."

To this point Curtis has offers from Arkansas, Tennessee, Arkansas State and Tulsa. Florida and Oklahoma State are also showing high interest. It's still early but this one could come down to the Razorbacks and Volunteers.

"I think that I like them the best right now," Curtis stated. "Tennessee is a school that I have always been interested in. I really like Arkansas's rushing attack, and I could see myself being successful there."

Over the coming months Inside Tennessee will attempt to do what 500 of the nation's best prospects couldn't — keep up with De'Anthony Curtis.

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