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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hog Calls

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

FAYETTEVILLE - It may not be the star tailback role he held at Camden Fairview and was recruited to assume at Arkansas, but De'Anthony Curtis has found his niche as a Razorback.

Niches, actually.

For the two big second-quarter catches the sophomore running back logged in the Hogs' 47-19 victory over Texas A&M tell only part of his recent story.

They were big parts.

Curtis caught the 5-yard go-ahead touchdown from Ryan Mallett for a 14-10 lead the Hogs never relinquished.

And he took a 29-yard screen pass from Mallett to the A&M 44 before Mallett's TD pass to Jarius Wright completed a 23-point second quarter.

Yet important though they were, those catches weren't what Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino first mentioned.

"Yeah De'Anthony does a great for this team," Petrino said. "He does a lot. He does a great job on special teams. He had an unbelievable tackle on kickoff cover. Grades out as well as anybody. One week (versus Georgia) he was our special teams player of the week."

Though seldom a tailback like in Camden days or even in last spring's drills when top two 2008 Arkansas backs Michael Smith and Dennis Johnson were injured and Ronnie Wingo still in high school, Curtis still has found ways to contribute as a "flyback."

Flyback?

"When you move a tailback to fullback, you call him a flyback," Petrino said, laughing, "because he doesn't ever want to be a fullback. It still goes F on the position."

And still can be Grade A in importance.

Flyback does differ from fullback.

Curtis is a 5-9, 215 quick-blocking pass-receiver compared to the typical 240-pound bulldozing blocker.

"He's done a nice job of blocking for our run game back there," Petrino said, "and he's caught the ball out of the backfield. He's a guy that we're getting more and more confidence with using."

Confidence usually intersects with meeting opportunity, running backs coach Tim Horton and fifth-year senior running back Michael Smith said.

"He really did some great things," Horton said, "but it's really not surprising. All De'Anthony ever needed was an opportunity. For him to take advantage of that opportunity was terrific."

Smith, a 1,000-yards rusher last year as a junior, recalled two previous seasons buried in shadows of All-Americans now NFL running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.

"I know exactly what De'Anthony is capable of," Smith said, "and everybody on the team knows what De'Anthony is capable of. He just needs the opportunity to show it and he took full advantage of it. That brings up his confidence and everyone's confidence about him."

Many nationally recruited tailbacks wouldn't let their egos accept a position move.

Horton never fretted that would happen with Curtis.

"Aside from being a good football player," Horton said, "he's an even better person. I hope my son turns out just like De'Anthony Curtis."

Because of his special teams work, Curtis never worried he would redshirt for lack of tailback space.

Instead he viewed flyback like an astronaut.

"You saw what happened against A&M, getting in space," Curtis said of the 29-yard romp as a flyback on the screen. "Everybody likes space."



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