Are Good Things in Store for De'Anthony Curtis in 2011?

I have something of a surprise confession to make.

No, it's not that I really dig The Monkees, although that is true (how I could not have a soft spot for the group that cranked out this garage-rock gem and this overlooked psychedelic classic?). And it's not that I prefer Dick Sargent's portrayal of Darrin Stephens to Dick York's - that is most certainly not true.

No, my surprise confession is that I'm a big De'Anthony Curtis fan.

De'Anthony Curtis - remember him? He's the guy who arrived in Fayetteville in 2008 as a much-hyped freshman running back from Camden Fairview. The guy who, after his senior year in high school, was named the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Offensive Player of the Year. Rivals.com ranked him as the best college football prospect in the state of Arkansas and said he was the sixth-best prep running back in the nation.

Well, you can be forgiven if the name doesn't immediately ring a bell - poor De'Anthony hasn't had much of a Razorback career. In three seasons on The Hill, he has amassed a whopping total of 79 rushing yards and scored not a single rushing touchdown. His playing time in the backfield pretty much evaporated after a costly late-game fumble against Kentucky in his freshman year helped the Wildcats mount a miraculous, fourth-quarter rally to beat the Hogs in Lexington.

He's made slightly more of an impact as a receiver, hauling in 139 yards with one touchdown reception, and on special teams, where he recorded six tackles in 2010. This spring, he switched to cornerback.

But now, with the Hogs searching for ways to compensate for the loss of Knile Davis ... (sorry, I got a little weepy there) ... it looks as though De'Anthony might finally have a meaningful role to play.

Curtis been getting snaps at running back in recent practices, and Bobby Petrino has liked what he has seen. "[De'Anthony] looked very good at running back," Petrino said during last Thursday's news conference. "Quick and instinctive."

And then, Petrino positively gushed: "De'Anthony is the ultimate team guy. The ultimate team guy. I can't say enough about De'Anthony Curtis. Anytime we've asked him to do anything, he's worked at it to try to do it the best he possibly can. He's been very eager. You cheer for a guy like that to come out his senior year and have great success."

Indeed you do.

I don't know exactly why I've always rooted for De'Anthony so strongly. Maybe it's just simply a case of wanting the home state guy to do well: Ever since the days of James Rouse, I've had a weakness for running backs from The Natural State. I definitely felt terrible for him after the 2008 Kentucky game and have been hoping ever since that he'd do something big to balance out the ledger book.

I have a list of approximately 5,428 reasons why I'm excited about the 2011 season. The sudden possibility that De'Anthony may yet make a big contribution to the Razorbacks is, I have to say, fairly high on it.

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