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Skyhawk nest cozy to Devil Curtis

Skyhawk nest cozy to Devil Curtis
In the end, Sam Curtis went with his first instinct.
The standout South Fulton offensive lineman turned down a late offer from Murray State University, electing to sign a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday morning to play at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
“It just felt right,” Curtis said of his decision to join the Skyhawk football team, which compiled a 5-6 worksheet last season. “I’m familiar with the coaching staff and a lot of the other recruits because of my visits to the campus.
“UTM had been talking to me since before summer camp and they kept in contact with me with either a call or a letter almost every week.”
The Racer program, led by new head coach Chris Hatcher, became more involved in their pursuit of Curtis over the weekend and eventually matched UT Martin’s offer. 
But Curtis, who verbally committed to the Skyhawks a couple weeks ago, stuck to his initial gut feeling.
“Murray called Saturday and it gave me a lot to think about, but UTM has been following me since Day 1 and I felt more comfortable there,” Curtis explained after an early-morning student assembly where he displayed hats from both schools before announcing his intentions to his peers. “It’s a huge relief to get this over with.”
Signing with UT Martin gives Curtis some peace as to his football future — something he admitted was in question after the unexpected death of his father, Chuck, in May due to cardiac arrest during a routine medical procedure.
“I thought about giving football up,” Curtis confided to The Messenger. “My dad was always the sports guy and my mom there as my support. After my dad died, I had to grow up a lot to be there for both my mom (Kim) and sister (Jessi).
“It’s been rough, but it’s possible to overcome the worst circumstances.”
Curtis starred in 2009 as a tackle for a South Fulton team that averaged 210 yards per game rushing and advanced to the playoffs for the first time since ’03. The Red Devils also claimed a playoff win for the first time since ’00 in the fall.
Defensively, Curtis saw action at end, where he recorded 51 tackles with five sacks and four stops for a loss.
“UTM told me they’re gonna play me at guard and that I’ll have a chance to compete for a job on the team if I come into camp in shape,” said Curtis, who also had offers from Bethel and Lambuth. “If I get there and I’m not in the shape they’d like for me to be in, they’ll redshirt me.
“Right now, I don’t think they plan to redshirt me, but it depends on what I do between now and then.”
The 6-foot-4, 320-pound senior said he has to work on the strength in his lower back, hips and on his technique, as well.
However, when compared to the decade of football needed to get to this point, the workload doesn’t seem too great to Curtis.
“When I was a little kid, I remember playing on the playground and dreaming that I was a Tennessee Volunteer,” Curtis said. “This is just as sweet to me. To me, this is my Tennessee. This is my chance to play college football in the NCAA and be close to home.
“That’s a dream come true.”
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kcoker@ucmessenger.com.

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