MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Twenty minutes after defensive back Kamren Curl announced his commitment to Arkansas, in walked his soon-to-be defensive coordinator.
Paul Rhoads, who the Razorbacks promoted from defensive backs coach last week, strolled into the Muskogee High School football facilities with a smile on his face. He shared hugs, handshakes and laughs with Curl and his family. It was as if Rhoads already was a part of Curl’s inner circle.
Throughout his recruiting process, Curl didn’t just want to find somewhere to play football. He wanted to find a home. Rhoads helped give Curl the sense of comfort he needed to chose Arkansas over Baylor, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, TCU and others.
“It was a really hard decision, because it’s not just about the next four years. It’s a decision that’s going to affect my whole life,” Curl said. “It got easy when I started to get to know the coaches at Arkansas, and knew that’s where I wanted to be.”
Curl admitted the departure of Robb Smith to Minnesota initially affected his thinking. As defensive coordinator, Smith had been one of his primary recruiters, along with Rhoads.
But once Rhoads was announced as Smith’s replacement, Curl was put at ease. Their relationship already was strong, and Rhoads’ seven years of experience as a head coach at Iowa State also was a major selling point.
“It was really appealing to play for Coach Rhoads,” Curl said. “Because I’m going to have somebody as my position coach who has been a head coach before at a Power 5 program. So it was pretty nice.
“My relationship is pretty good with him. He was my position coach, so he was the one I was mostly talking to throughout the process. Him moving up, it was just very good for me. It won’t be anybody new coming in that I don’t know. I already him and we have a good relationship.”
Putting Curl in Hogs’ tale
Curl also speaks highly of Bret Bielema as a coach and a person. The Razorbacks head man was with Rhoads on an in-home visit to Curl last week. That’s when Curl silently committed to Arkansas, letting the coaches know he’d made his decision public a week later.
“They were excited,” Curl said. “I had been telling them that they were my No. 1, but when we finally made it official, they were excited. We made it official on the home visit, so I got to see their reaction.”
Maybe just as importantly, Rhoads and the rest of the coaching staff also have mom’s approval. Adrienne Curl says her son would have her full support wherever he decided to go. But she did notice when Arkansas, led by the efforts of Rhoads, became the clear favorite.
“I am so comfortable,” Adrienne told SEC Country on Thursday. “That feeling that (Kamren) wants to feel like home, I get that. I mean, look at him now over there just hanging out with Coach Rhoads. I love who he is and what he represents. He’s more than just Arkansas. The man he’s presented to us has made us very comfortable with Kamren going over there.”