The Wolverine

January 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 59 of 67

60 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2021 BY JOHN BORTON J ulius Curry knows what it's like to put the pedal to the metal in Co- lumbus. Now, he's accelerating to- ward more success. The Michigan safety (1998-2002) raced away with a 50-yard intercep- tion return for a touchdown in the Wolverines' 38-26 win over Ohio State in 2000. It marked the last time a U-M squad came away from Co- lumbus victorious. Curry's still racing, with break- through results. He formed Curry Rac- ing in 2006, becoming the first African- American in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series as the sole minority owner. He's not slowing up, either. "I love being able to be a part of business and opportunity, being able to create opportunities for people," he stressed. He created one for himself while still at Detroit's Bishop Gallagher High. A hot commodity on the re- cruiting market, with Miami, Tennes- see, Ohio State, Notre Dame and oth- ers making their bids, Curry chose to keep it close, when Lloyd Carr offered a scholarship. Curry jumped on the chance, then spent a year redshirting among a host of Michigan talent. Curry and others from the nation's No. 1 recruiting class focused on be- coming as good as they could be, with their time coming. "Every practice was a highlight film to us," he said. "That's how it felt. Wow, look at the catch! Every- body had good practices. Everybody was focusing on the team. "… It was more like, 'Guys, you were the No. 1 class in the country. Now we need you to be the No. 1 team.'" In 1999, they almost were. Curry played in nine games as a redshirt freshman, largely on special teams. It wasn't his time to shine, and that didn't matter — a fact un- derscored every day by Michigan's approach. "Bo [Schembechler] was there," Curry reminisced. "Bo was right there at practice, right there at games, and Lloyd was the guy who said, 'This is for The Team.' He was a team guy, and that's what it was all about. "It wasn't about individualism. It wasn't about, did you have a good game? Lloyd wouldn't even let us do interviews if we didn't talk about our team before we talked about ourselves." That team nearly went unscathed. But they suffered excruciating, back- to-back losses to Michigan State (34-31) and Illinois (35-29), robbing them of a shot at a national championship. "We talk about that," Curry noted. "I talk to D.T., [wide receiver] Da- vid Terrell, all the time. We say, man, think about our freshman year. We beat Syracuse, we beat Notre Dame. We're right back at the national championship. We were three or four plays away from winning those two other games. "Tom [Brady] and Drew [Henson] were battling, and they were trying to figure out what was the best for the team. After those two games, it really let us know that we had to figure that out. We won out, and won the Big Ten championship." The 2000 season provided Curry's breakthrough. The Wolverines let a couple slip away that year, too, but came through when it counted most — in Columbus. Everyone remembers Henson's bootleg TD clincher in the 38-26 shootout win. Not everybody saw it coming at the time. "That was a great boot!" Curry re- called. "He got me with it, too. I was like, 'Aw, we're running that … Aw- wwwww!' He got us with it, too! We didn't know! We were on defense, getting ready to go back out there." Earlier, Curry made the play of his career, after considerable film study of OSU quarterback Steve Bellisari and the Buckeyes. "They were running a lot of dig routes, curls," he recalled. "We'd watched a lot of film, and I said I'm jumping the route. Once I saw him coming in motion, I said, yeah, he's running a curl. I told Todd Howard, play over the top of me, I'm jumping the curl. "If you look at the film, I actually almost overran the interception. I was ready to make the play. That's what's important about watching film. It's saying to the guys, this is our time to make an opportunity and show Coach that what he taught us in practice we can apply in games. "When I jumped the route, I was more focused on making sure I didn't drop the ball. I saw it coming, jumped in front of the ball and took it home." He played in only five games as a redshirt junior, injuring a shoul- der in the non-conference slate. He thus sat out an infamous and memo- rable road contest at Michigan State, when a slow-fingered clock keeper allowed the Spartans to win on a fi- nal — some say extra — play. "Oh man … with one second not on the clock, right?" Curry mused, with WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Julius Curry Is Racing Toward His Next Big Play Curry on NASCAR "If you bust your butt, like in any other sport — the NBA, the NFL or NHL — the oppor- tunities will open, if you're there." Curry formed Curry Racing in 2006, becom- ing the first African-American in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series to be a sole minority owner. PHOTO COURTESY JULIUS CURRY

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - January 2021