Marcus Curry is still in touch with many of his former Navy football teammates, most of them having moved on to their post-graduate military commitments and a few others who are now finishing their college careers for the Midshipmen.
Curry would have been in the first group, in his second year at Navy flight school in Pensacola, Fla., had he not been kicked off the team in the spring of 2010 for violating team rules. Curry later resigned from the academy and transferred to Texas State that summer.
Now a fifth-year senior, Curry will return to Annapolis for an unlikely reunion with several players on the current Navy team — and with hopes of helping Texas State (3-6) beat the the Midshipmen (6-4) on Senior Day Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
"It's going to be exciting," Curry said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I don't get too emotional about things, but I'm looking forward to it."
Curry was considered an emerging star at slotback for Navy as a sophomore, a player whose speed on the edge seemed to be a perfect complement to the bruising running styles of quarterback Ricky Dobbs and fullback Alex Teich.
He opened the season by catching two touchdown passes — including an 85-yard catch-and run — in a 31-27 loss at Ohio State. He caught a 25-yard touchdown pass to help secure a win over Army. He finished the season — and his Navy career, as things turned out — by rushing for 109 yards and a touchdown while catching five passes for 97 more in a 35-13 win over Missouri in the Texas Bowl.
Recalling what would turn out to be his last game for the Midshipmen, Curry said, "It was a lot of fun. I remember Coach [Ken] Niumatalolo yelling me before the game started because I kept forgetting my checks I was so nervous. But it ended up pretty well."
The same can't be said about Curry's stay in Annapolis. Never that comfortable with the rules and regimen of the academy, or the prospect of going into the military after graduation, Curry wound up leaving Navy after a series of off-field incidents.
The most publicized infraction occurred when Curry tested positive for marijuana after the 2009 season, though he later claimed that he didn't know that the cigar he was smoking was a "blunt" — a cigar stuffed with the drug.
Shortly after spring practice ended in 2010, Niumatalolo dismissed Curry from the team, reportedly for lying over a curfew violation. Curry resigned from the academy and returned home to Carroltown, Texas, located about 3 ½ hours from Texas State.
"I had a couple of friends from high school on the team, and my family could come watch me play all of my home games, even some of the road games," Curry said. "I think things happen for a reason. [Going to Texas State] gave me a chance to experience life as a regular college student."
Said Niumatalolo: "I'm really happy for the kid. The kid's moved on and he's making good decisions and doing well in the classroom. … All of us are young at some point, if we think back to our college days, we all grow up."
Curry, who said that he expects to graduate next spring with a degree in finance, has faced some challenges at Texas State, which is in its first full season of a Football Bowl Subdivision schedule.
Eligible to play right away because the Bobcats were still a Football Championship Subdivsion school, Curry ruptured his Achilles right before the start of the 2010 season. Curry's junior year was marred by six fumbles in 12 games.
"Once the season was over and he had time to catch his breath, he studied film very hard, he worked out very hard, he practiced with a purpose for his senior year," second-year Texas State coach Dennis Franchione said in an interview Wednesday. "He made it a point that he was going to take care of the football."
In a season-opening win at Houston, Curry rushed for 131 yards, scoring twice, and catching a 21-yard touchdown pass. In a 62-55 loss last week to No. 18 Louisiana Tech, Curry gained a career-high 134 yards rushing, scoring twice, and also caught a 47-yard touchdown pass.
Curry leads Texas State in rushing with 513 yards and nine touchdowns on 84 carries, and has caught 11 passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Most significantly, Curry has yet to fumble.
The well-travelled Franchione, who coached LaDainian Tomlinson at TCU and later coached at both Alabama and Texas A&M, said that the solidly built Curry, at 5-11, 210 pounds, has NFL potential.
"Marcus is a pretty complete player. He's good running the ball, he can catch the ball, he can block — maybe a little of that Naval Academy carryover there's a lot he brings to the table," Franchione said.
If playing in the NFL someday "would be like a dream" to Curry, going back to Annapolis seems a little surreal. He still follows Navy, trying to catch games when he can on television or texting with a few of his former teammates, including junior slotback Darius Staten, whom Curry helped recruit out of the same high school he play at in Texas.
"I'm looking forward to see those guys," Curry said.
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