Q&A: Coach Kevin Curtis

Kevin Curtis starred at Lubbock Coronado before becoming an All-American safety at Texas Tech (1998-2002). He then went on to a pro career, before becoming a coach. He made stops at Navarro and Louisiana Tech before coming home to join Kliff Kingsbury's staff in Dec. 2013. RaiderPower.com spoke with him Wednesday about the start of spring ball, what CBs to look out for and his return to Lubbock.

Justis (Nelson) had a solid end
to the season last year. How has he looked and what are you expecting out of him this spring?


Curtis: I have a good young group. Justis is the leader, being the guy who started four or five games at the end of the season. He understands and has been in the battles. He's a guy who plays with great effort every day in practice and he is a great guy to be a leader for us. Thierry (Nguema) got a lot of experience and a lot of reps in practice last year, because he was running with the twos. And then La'Darius and Tyler both got a lot of reps during our bowl time. Those guys are just going to get a bunch of reps and just get a chance to get better every day.

Which guys are competing for the spot opposite Justis?

Curtis: I've got four guys out there right now; you've got Justis, you've got Thierry, you've got La'Darius Newbold and you've got Tyler Middleton. So all of those guys are going to get reps and get a chance to get better, because you've got new guys coming, but these guys will get 12 practices and three scrimmages to just get better. That's the whole thing; just better and keep working, because we have to continue to get better in the offseason, in the summer and going into to two-a-days.

How has Tyler looked since the position change?

Curtis: You know it's still new to him, but he got a chance during the season to play corner on Thursday night football and then we got a chance to flip it over and he did 7-on-7 with us on defense. He understands it, he gets a chance to come and talk. He's picking it up, you know he's very talented.

How much are you expecting from the 2014 signees as far as how much are you expecting those guys to see the field in the fall?

Curtis: Well all those guys will get opportunities during two-a-days, they'll be here in the summer, will get a chance to do the 7-on-7 with our guys and lift. So, all those guys--everybody has a chance. Everybody is going to get an opportunity to show what they can do and the best people are going to play. It doesn't matter if you're a freshman, senior, it doesn't matter. So they'll get opportunities to get thrown into the fire.

Is there anybody else you might be looking to move to play corner? Obviously, you have already moved a couple guys, but are there any other candidates in the works?

Curtis: What I look for in a corner, what coach (Trey) Haverty looks for in a safety are guys who are quick, sudden, fast, that can cover, are tough. We've got some interchangeable parts and so, we're going to find our best way to get our best five on the field. Who that is, we don't know yet, but we're going to get a chance to see and give them a lot of reps and go prove it.

You mentioned some of the guys, but who specifically do you need to have a good spring?

Curtis: Honestly, I need all four of them to have a big spring, because injuries happen and you saw last year we got beat up a bit. You have to have two-deep and guys able to go out there and play and there be no drop off. You never know when a guy might twist an ankle, the other guy coming in has to be able to execute the defense like everybody else.

I want to ask you a couple questions about you personally. You were a local Lubbock kid coming out of Coronado, then you starred here at safety and now you are back here as a coach. What has that been like and did you ever think you would come back?

Curtis: You never think about it. You always think it would be nice to come back to your alma mater, but you just never know in this profession. You know it's great to be back, but it's also great to be back around the guys. This coaching staff is a fun coaching staff to be around. A lot of guys are heading in the right direction, the same direction. We all want this place to be built up the right way and there aren't hidden motives and those type of things. It's a great environment.

That was my next question. How much of a big deal is it for you, or not, that so many of you played here and really know the story of the program?

Curtis: It's a big deal. It's a big deal because you are selling kids on something and you wanted to come here too. We all see the importance of this place, how special it is and we want to make sure we pick the right guys to come in here; the guys who represent Texas Tech the right way, the guys who work hard, who are unspoiled and just want to go out there and play. These guys may not always have the most recognition and that kind of stuff, but they want to go out there and prove it. These guys don't want to be handed anything, they want to go out there and earn it.

What has this year and change been like for you overall? If you could kind of encapsulate what it has been like?

Curtis: A dream come true.

Really?

Curtis: Yeah.

Has there been a big surprise for you or anything that has shocked you since being back in Lubbock?

Curtis: Not really a shock, but it has been amazing how well received, how all the people and alumni from Texas Tech have bought in to what we are doing and given us support in what we are doing and we want to continue that. Please. We need it. We need to continue the support through all the things, I know we have some projects coming up, the support our alumni has given us has been great.

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