Tom Curtis (American Football) - University of Michigan

University of Michigan

Curtis played college football at the University of Michigan from 1967 to 1969. As a freshman in 1966, he played at the quarterback position on the all-freshman team.

As a sophomore, the Michigan coaching staff asked Curtis to move from the quarterback position to the safety position. Curtis told a reporter the following year, "It took a little mental adjustment on my part, but it was all right with me. I wanted to play, and it was it was pretty obvious I wasn't going to beat out (Dick) Vidmer." Curtis started eight games at safety and one at cornerback for the 1967 Michigan Wolverines football team. On November 11, 1967, Curtis had three interceptions against Illinois, which remains tied for Michigan's single game record. During the 1967 season (his first as a defensive back), Curtis totaled seven interceptions to tie the Big Ten Conference record. In June 1968, Curtis received the Frederick C. Matthei Scholarship Award for sportsmanship off and on the field.

As a junior, Curtis started all 10 games for the 1968 team that finished the season with a record of 8-2. He totaled 10 interceptions in 1968, a mark that remains Michigan's single season record. He was selected as a first-team All-Big Ten player after the 1968 season.

As a senior, Curtis started all 11 games at safety for the 1969 team that was the first to be coached by Bo Schembechler. He intercepted eight passes for 156 yards in 1969. Two of his interceptions came in the Michigan's victory in the 1969 Ohio State game, regarded as one of the biggest upsets in college football history. He was selected as a consensus first-team All-American (selected as first-team by, among others, the United Press, Associated Press and Football News).

With 25 career interceptions, Curtis still holds Michigan's all-time career interceptions record. (Charles Woodson is second with 18 interceptions.) His career total of 431 return yards off interceptions also broke the NCAA record set by Lynn Chandnois in the 1940s. At the end of the 2010 college football season, Curtis was tied for fourth place in career interceptions in NCAA Division I-A/FBS history. In an interview in 1968, Curtis said he know how to think like a quarterback after playing five years at the position. He noted that his ability to think like a quarterback and read formations helped make him successful as a defensive back. Asked years later about his skill at intercepting passes, Curtis said, "I'm not certain how I did it. It was a combination of instinct, great hands and quickness -- not speed."

In 2005, Curtis was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Read more about this topic:  Tom Curtis (American Football)

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