This time last year Natrell Curtis was one of the fastest rising names in national offensive line recruiting. Two months later he was busy dominating all comers at the Phoenix Rivals camp and found himself ranked as the nation's No. 143 overall player.
Following some personal issues that slowed his off-field work and overall progression the 6-foot-3, 325-pound offensive guard was a bit disappointing at the RivalsChallenge in Chicago. His senior year ended with massive team success with Phoenix Mountain Pointe claiming a state title and a top 10 national ranking.
However, Curtis even during the excitement of his commitment knows that many still have questions about him as an individual. They are questions he can, somewhat, understand and says he is more than ready to address.
"Right now, like I told coach (Bill) Bedenbaugh, I won a state championship this year, it felt great to go out on top, now my next step is to win a national championship and to do that I have to make sure I'm prepared," Curtis said. "I plan on training and cutting weight and I want to go in there and be in the fight. I'm focused on winning a national championship at Oklahoma."
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In fact, upon returning from the Army All-American bowl on Sunday Curtis and his father sat down with his trainer to begin work on preparing for his time in Norman.
" I'm going to be in tip-top shape. I'm back training with my trainer, like my trainer said, it wasn't about the weight, I'll drop that easily, it's just being in good shape and making sure I'm as ready as I can be," he said. "I had dinner with my trainer Monday night. He was saying 'watching you from your JR. year to your Sr. year' you can see a difference. We just kind of laugh at when we read those repots and stuff because I'll be ready."
The nation's No. 17 guard says that while he has heard many doubt his conditioning and whether he'll be ready to help Oklahoma immediately he says the entire situation has been a chance to grow up and humble himself.
"When it comes to that situation, I'm not trying to be overly religious but God humbled me and I feel like now, I had a set back I had a little setback for a major comeback," he explained.
"You know, I just feel like, God he throws you obstacles. At one point I had set some goals, being a young kid, I said I'm going to get offers, going to get an All-American and I set those goals and I reached them. God has his ways, little things, and he humbled me and took me and showed me that I'm going to get through some of my personal issues.
"They want to talk about his weight, is he going to be a hit or bust, when I'm getting prepared it's stuff like that I'll use as motivation."
In spite of knowing he has some weight to lose and that he wasn't as ready as he'd have liked to have been in San Antonio Curtis said that he felt his experience at the Army All-American bowl was not only eye-opening because of the competition. But also because of how he was able to cope with that competition.
"It's helping me get ready for Oklahoma. I loved how I went to the U.S. Army, it showed me that I'm still competing and able to do the things I need to do and I'm doing this while I'm not in tip-top shape. It showed me what I could do if I was where I will be," he said.
While many schools were a bit back and forth in their interest in Curtis since the summer the fact that Bedenbaugh and the Sooners were steadfast in his recruitment was a big part of why he was so certain Oklahoma was the place for me.
"To touch base on that - that was one of my biggest reasons on why I chose Oklahoma. At Oklahoma, they knew that I gained weight and stuff like that but they were always saying 'drop or get it down' but they never gave up on me. With everything I've been through, they've stuck beside me and that chance is still there," Curtis explained.
And while several schools, including Washington who he made his initial commitment to, liked him along the defensive line it was the chance to play along the line under Bedenbaugh that also helped him to his final choice of the Sooners.
"They like me at left guard, on offense, and that's how they plan on using me," he said. "Offense or defense didn't really matter. I'm just the type of player wherever I was going to go I was going to play whatever position. At Oklahoma I'm going to play left guard."