120 Players You Need To
Memphis RB Curtis Steele
Who is Curtis Steele?
… This time last year, Memphis really had no idea who
was going to carry the load on the ground. Steele ended the mystery
in the opener against Ole Miss before going on to become just the
fourth Tiger to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and the Conference
USA Newcomer of the Year. A transfer from Northwest Mississippi
Community College, he redshirted in 2007, using that time to get a
little stronger and a lot more comfortable with his new
surroundings. The apprenticeship paid off for Steele and the school.
In his debut at this level, he went over 100 yards six times, often
carrying an offense that had problems keeping quarterbacks healthy.
He’s got great moves in the open field, but won’t dance around if
his blockers are doing their jobs. He hits the hole quickly and is
always moving forward, a rarity for a 193-yard back. If Arkelon Hall
improves at quarterback and provides a vertical threat, slowing down
Steele will be that much tougher for opposing defenses in 2009.
game so far was … the Southern Miss game last Oct. 25. Although
Steele had more yards a month earlier against Arkansas State, this
game had far greater meaning to the junior. In front of a homecoming
crowd, he ran for 178 yards and two scores, lifting the offense on a
day when the Tigers were down to their third and fourth option at
should care about Steele? … If he can improve on his 1,223-yard
opening act at this level, Steele is destined to become this year’s
premier back in Conference USA. With only modest support from the
Tiger passing attack, he exploded on to the scene for a program that
was looking to finally bridge the gap from the DeAngelo Williams era
that ended in 2005. He’s an exciting runner, who can go the distance
with just one timely block.
Positives about Steele …
At 5-11 and 193 pounds, Steele isn’t all that big, but he uses his
size and quickness to his advantage, darting in and out holes in a
flash. He’s a patient, north-south runner with the vision to
accelerate to daylight before the first line of defense touches him.
He has outstanding agility, and posted a 4.45 in the 40 last year,
making him one of Memphis’ fastest players.
Negatives about Steele …
Steele plans to spend his final year in Memphis getting better at
the little things, such as picking up the blitz on passing downs,
avoiding fumbles, and getting stronger in the weight room. After
catching just eight passes for 187 yards, he’s also hoping to become
more dangerous as an outlet on swing passes out of the backfield.
A cool thing about
Steele you probably didn’t know … Leaving high school and junior
college, Steele was considered to be an SEC talent by a bunch of
schools in the conference. However, they all wanted him to play
cornerback, while Memphis assured him he’d get a chance to be an
2007: Did not play
2008: 218 rushes for
1,223 yards and seven touchdowns – eight catches for 187 yards
Statistics, information and photo provided by the
Memphis sports information department