Then & Now: WR Kevin Curtis

WR Kevin Curtis (Getty Images)

Former pro scout Tom Marino recounts the first time he met Eagles and former Rams wide receiver Kevin Curtis while scouting him for St. Louis. Find out what he thought of him as a potential pro receiver back then -- and what he thinks of him now.

He sat there quietly in the back row of the Utah State wide receiver meeting room.  Along with twelve to fifteen of his fellow pass-catchers, he was waiting for his daily meeting and film evaluation with his position coach to begin, and for the NFL scout from the St. Louis Rams -- who had just concluded six hours of viewing offensive and special teams game tape -- to pack up his media guide, stat sheets, his observation notes and exit the facility.

I can remember glancing around the room while packing up my belongings and wondering which one of these rather non-descript young student athletes was in fact my principle reason for being in Logan, Utah on this day in late-October. I must admit that even after eliminating some obvious players, I still could not for the life of me pick out Kevin Curtis.

Before exiting the room, I asked, "Which one of you guys is Kevin Curtis?" And I was more than just a little surprised when this average-looking individual briefly stood up and extended his hand in friendship.

At 23 years of age, he was slightly older than most of his college teammates.  But even with his random facial hair, he looked more like the proverbial high school sophomore.

Curtis grew up in South Jordan, Utah along with six siblings in a supportive family situation. After attending Bingham High School, he enrolled at Snow Junior College in tiny Ephraim, Utah after not receiving a single college scholarship offer. 

During his two-year career, K.C. caught 85 balls for over 1,700 yards and 24 touchdowns. As a sophomore, he was named a second-team JUCO All-American, but as was the case in high school, those impressive numbers attracted little interest from state or regional institutions. It was then that K.C. decided to postpone his athletic career and journey to London, England as part of an LDS mission. After serving for two years, he returned to the United States with a new-found spirit and with hope of returning to the sport he so dearly missed.

Realizing that any type of scholarship offer was out of the question, K.C. first visited BYU in Provo and later the University of Utah in Salt Lake City to offer his services as a walk-on. Surprisingly, he was unceremoniously rejected by both universities. Not giving up on his dream, he journeyed to Utah State University.in Logan and -- after accepting an opportunity to walk on to the squad -- he not only quickly established himself as a starter for the Aggies, but by season's end had developed into one of the top pass receivers in the entire country.

All this walk-on player did -- in his initial foray into Division I football -- was lead the entire country in receiving. Hauling in an amazing 100 balls for 1,531 yards and 10 touchdowns, he followed that with 74 catches for 1,258 yards and 9 touchdowns as a senior. I'd say that K.C. was a pretty good return on Utah State's meager investment.

After viewing KC at the team's afternoon practice, I stopped off at a favorite spots, the "Bluebird Restaurant," to sample their fare and think about what I had just seen out on the practice field. 

While reviewing my early-morning notes from my visit with the staff's professional liaison, I thought that this rather ordinary looking individual was in fact even better than advertised. He was not your typical, college football player.

Aside from his great speed, exceptional hands, and route-running ability, I took special note of a comment the liaison had made to me over his first cup of coffee and a donut. The previous spring, the Aggies' offensive staff had visited Rams Park and upon returning to Logan had installed the Rams' offensive passing system.

Wow, a player with outstanding playing skills and he already knew the team's offense!


Kevin Curtis during his rookie year
Elsa/Getty Images

But two major trials were still necessary before I could stand up for K.C. at our spring draft meetings. The first was the Senior Bowl, where he would be matched-up daily against the top defensive corners in the country. The final test would take place at the national NFL Scouting Combine. To say the least, Curtis passed both tests with flying colors.

Throughout the practice week leading up to the Senior Bowl game, K.C. impressed coaches, GMs and scouts alike, easily setting up and running past the top corners in the country.

A month later in Indianapolis, he solidified his standing among the top receivers in the country by running an unbelievable 4.32 hand-held time in the 40. Another little known fact from that Combine was that he compiled one of the highest Wonderlic Personnel Test scores in NFL football history when he correctly answered 49 out of 50 questions in the allotted 12 minutes according to our records. Equally impressive was his personal school workout, which led the Rams to select K.C. with our third-round selection in the 2003 draft.

After breaking his leg as a rookie, he quickly assimilated himself into Rams' offensive system of play and became a very productive third receiver in the Rams offensive system throughout his career in St. Louis. KC was without question the Rams' fastest receiver and a personal favorite of Rams QB Marc Bulger, particularly down in the red zone. Although not considered an elusive runner after the catch, his speed and physical toughness make him a threat when the ball is in his hands. 

I believe the Rams made a great mistake by not renegotiating his contract prior to the 2006 season. As expected at the conclusion of the season, K.C. became a very popular figure on the free agent circuit before signing a $32 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. An ideal number two receiver, I truly expect him to flourish in the City of Brotherly Love.

On September 23rd, the Eagles received a major return on their investment when Curtis needed just one quarter to establish an NFL record with six catches for 132 yards. And he tied another league record with 205 receiving yards and three touchdowns in just one half.

I haven't seen nor spoken to Kevin Curtis since leaving the Rams in May of 2006, but wish this classy young man the very best for the remainder of his professional football career and beyond.

Tom Marino has over 35 years of experience as a professional scout working for the NFL's Bears, Saints, Rams, Giants and Cowboys along with both the WFL and USFL. As Scout.com's Lead NFL Analyst, he has primary responsibility for network reporting, the NFL Draft, Free Agency databases and rankings.


 

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