The Wolverine

January 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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JANUARY 2021 THE WOLVERINE 61   WHERE ARE THEY NOW? a rueful chuckle. "One second not on the clock, and we lose that game." He did return for a key intercep- tion against Auburn in a Citrus Bowl win, and shined early in his fifth-year senior season with a pair of pick- offs against Utah in the fourth game of the slate, a hard-fought 10-7 vic- tory one week after falling by two at Notre Dame. "To get two picks in a game early in the season was great — one at the start [against Utah], one at the end," Curry noted. "That was a tough game. It was a close game. We didn't really underestimate Utah. They just had a great game. "It felt like we were playing against Michigan State. I was like, these guys ain't playing. They didn't have a real big team, but they understood what they were doing." But that final year wasn't kind to Curry. He missed five games with a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee, suffered against Purdue. The mounting injuries left him a bit compromised for the NFL, but he still managed parts of five sea- sons, mostly as a practice player with the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. It proved anything but wasted time, Curry building his bank ac- count and his bank of administrative knowledge. "When I got to the pros, I wanted to take advantage of meeting the trust- ees, meeting the corporations that sponsored, seeing how they operate the different teams," he said. "The Detroit Lions ran their team way dif- ferent than the Bears, and totally dif- ferent than how the Packers run it. "I was more looking at the opera- tional side. It wasn't really about playing. To me, that's what I thought I could bring to the team — under- standing schemes, helping guys out at practice, hopefully getting my three- four years in and then retiring." Once Curry did, there wasn't any question about his director or his drive. "Growing up, my father was into racing," he said. "He was a street racer, and my uncle was a driver. He was into drag racing. They were more street-racing guys. "My uncle would go out to Milan and help out with some of his guys who were really professional drivers. That's how I got involved. I would go Friday night, Saturday night, 1 o'clock in the morning with my dad. "They would be racing cars until the cops came. My dad wanted me to go to North Carolina and get into racing, and my dad would build cars. My mom was like, 'He's going to play football or basketball. He's not doing race cars.'" Mom got her wish for a long time. But when football ended, her son threw himself into the racing game. It took on historic significance with his NASCAR breakthrough in 2006. Since that time, he's built and cre- ated chances not only for himself but others as well. "The hardest thing is to get a num- ber, right?" he said. "You get a num- ber and build a team, once you get a number. Some think there's not an op- portunity for everybody, but there is. "You've got the Can-Am Series, you've got ARCA Series, the truck se- ries, NASCAR Weekly Series. You've got a lot of ways to get into the sport and work your way up. If you bust your butt, like in any other sport — the NBA, the NFL or NHL — the op- portunities will open, if you're there." Curry is now the general manager of a growing team. He helps develop engineers to understand mechanics based on various race tracks, and sends eager learners to pit crew train- ing school and classes for building chassis. "I love it," he said. "It's not just your body, right? It's a team. It's like football and basketball, except now the pit crew is your offensive line- men. Your driver is the quarterback. Your defensive back is the front-tire changer and the front-tire carrier. "Your defensive line is the gas man, the jack man. It's the same thing, but different. That's what I want to do for guys. Once they get done playing ball, they can get into a sport where we all can be a part of it." ❑ Curry returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown in the Wolverines' 38-26 win over Ohio State in 2000, the program's last over the Buckeyes in Columbus. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETICS The Julius Curry File Michigan Accomplishments: Played on Michigan teams that won 47 games, earning a pair of Big Ten championships … Performed on a 1999 squad that beat Penn State and Ohio State, plus Alabama in the Orange Bowl, to finish ranked No. 5 in the coaches' poll … Played in 35 games, notching 100 tackles, six tackles for loss, two sacks, four interceptions, 11 passes broken up, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Professional Accomplishments: Played in the NFL for the Chicago Bears, De- troit Lions and Green Bay Packers from 2003-07 … Created Curry Racing in 2006, competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series … The team became the first African-American crew in the series with sole minority ownership. Michigan Memory: "It's about the team. But it's definitely about making a play for your team. That [2000] Ohio State game was one of the best plays and opportunities I had as a player and we had as a team. When I made that play, I made that play for the team. But I also made that play for everybody back home who was watching in Detroit, all my high school coaches that were at the game, and my mom and dad. They knew I made this play, and did it for my team. It was about understanding what my job was that day, and winning for Michigan." Education: Graduated from Michigan in May of 2003, with a BA in sports man- agement and communications. Family: Curry has four children: 23-year-old son Davion, 13-year-old son Justin, 11-year-old daughter Bella and 2-year-old daughter Olivia.

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