Deconstructing De'Anthony

If judged strictly in terms of what he might become, and that is, after all, the essence of evaluating football talent, then De'Anthony Curtis is without doubt one of the most intriguing running backs in the Class 2008.

His junior stats at Camden Fairview High School, located in rural south Arkansas, don't scream super star, but they strongly hint at a versatile athlete with broad application on the collegiate gridiron scene. When you add in his physical attributes and ball skills you get a first class playmaker with an exciting football future. Plus a pretty impressive past.

As a junior De'Anthony Curtis compiled 1,750 all-purpose yards, including 560 rushing yards. That's not the type of rushing total you would normally expect from a high school player attracting national attention, but there are extenuating circumstances.

"He missed two games," said Camden-Fairview head coach Buck James told IT. "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."

A threat anytime he steps on the field, Curtis was a quality receiver out of the backfield who gained 651 yards and six TDs on receptions. He had another 549 yards and four TDs on kick and punt returns, averaging nearly 200 all-purpose yards per game.

"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."

The 5-foot-9, 205-pound athlete also runs the 100M, the 200M and the 4x100 relay on Camden Fairview's track team as well as plays centerfield and pitches for the Cardinals baseball team. He helped lead Camden to an 11-1 mark in 2006 and was named 5A-South back of the year.

He ran the fastest 40 time at the National Combine in San Antonio last January with a 4.41 clocking on what was generally deemed a slow surface. He's an explosive runner with excellent vision, traction and body lean. Curtis can flank a defense in nothing flat or attack it between the tackles. He has a 310-pound bench press and a 435-pound squat. He also has a 36-inch vertical leap and a 4.22 time in the short shuttle. His build and running style is similar to former Vol and current Denver Bronco back Travis Henry.

Camden has become a hot spot for college recruiters this month and Curtis currently has offers from Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Mississippi, MIssissippi State, Clemson and Tulsa among others. It's still early but he appears to be favoring Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma State.

He cites his long standing interest in Tennessee as well as UT's facilities and coaches as reasons the Vols are right at the top of his list of favorites. He plans to announce his decision on a school before the start of the Cardinals' season.

When it comes to offensive weapons — De'Anthony is Da Bomb.

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