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As the state’s top high school football player in the Hawgs Illustrated preseason rankings, Camden Fairview tailback and future Razorback De'Anthony Curtis knows people are going to come see him play expecting something special on Friday nights this season.
Curt wants to please them, but most of all he wants to end his season with a Class 5A state title after a 2006 season in which the Cardinals roared to 11-0 mark before suffering a humbling loss to Pulaski Academy in the state playoffs.
They’ll start trying to do so with a season-opening game at Class 6A El Dorado on Friday night.
“I want to put on a show, but I want to do it within the team concept,” Curtis said. “We have a lot of playmakers here and we have to take advantage of all of them. We had a long off-season thinking about the last game and know that you have to be not only ready every game, but every play.”
While Camden Fairview does have several playmakers – including fellow University of Arkansas commits in quarterback Jim Youngblood (6-3, 217, 4.69) and defensive end Lavunce Askew (6-3, 278, 4.8) – no one is as explosive and electrifying as Curtis.
He rushed for 568 yards and 11 touchdowns last season and hauled in 651 yards receiving for another six touchdowns last season.
He also averaged 37.5 yards per kickoff return and 30.9 yards per punt return and had nearly 2,000 yards total offense.
Curtis, who ran the fastest 40-yard dash time at the U.S. Army All American National combine this past January averaged over 10 yards per offensive snap when he touched the ball during the season.
“I just try to make a play for my team every time I touch the ball,” Curtis said.
He thinks this season’s team is going to be better because of a defense that is headed by Askew and fellow defensive end Brian Christopher.
“The defense has stepped up tremendously,” Curtis said. “I think they are starting to get that swagger they have been talking about wanting to have this year.”
“I think we have our offense down and we have a lot of playmakers involved,” Curtis said. “The receivers are doing a great job catching the ball and blocking and the defense has stepped it up.”
Curtis was one of seven UA commits and a couple of more D-1 prospects that got together in Warren last week for a scrimmage that also featured Texarkana and Bearden.
“It was real fun playing against all these talent and a lot of people came,” Curtis said. “I think we put on a show.”
He was particularly impressed with Warren’s four wideouts that have committed to the Razorbacks – Jarius Wright (5-11, 180, 4.34), Greg Childs (6-5, 195, 4.6), Chris Gragg (6-3, 185, 4.6) and Basmine Jones (6-1, 210, 4.5) all flew down the field on one of their first plays against Bearden.
“I saw when Warren first came out they ran all four vertical,” Curtis said. “The first thing I thought was man that’s beautiful and then I thought I sure am glad all those guys are going to Arkansas with Jim, LaVunce and myself instead of somewhere else.”
As Askew put it “there’s a lot of great players from small towns in Arkansas who are going to come up there and make big plays.”
“We are going to have a lot of talent coming in and we are going to try and do the best we can as Razorbacks,” Curtis continued. “We’re all good friends and bonding together.”
Curtis expects a spirted effort from both sides when Camden Fairview makes the trek to El Dorado on Friday.
“We went and scouted them,” Curtis said. “They are a rival so we are going to do down and play hard.”
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Normally Arkansas’ basketball team would host recruits this weekend with it being a home football game, but the Razorback hoopsters will be in Cancun playing a couple of exhibition games.
The Razorback coaching staff has already set up official visits with Chicago post Stan Simpson (6-9, 220) and Oklaloosa-Walton (Fla.) Community College forward Keith Ramsey (6-8, 205) for Sept 21-23.
The Razorbacks are also slated to host Memphis Criagmont swingman Terrico White (6-5, 195) and Monroe (La.) Carroll forward Terrance Henry (6-9, 190) on Sept. 28-30.
Courtney Fortson, a 5-11 prep school point guard from The Patterson (N.C.) School, will be taking his official visit to Arkansas on one of those two weekends.