The next stop: Curran set for challenge at Ks. Wesleyan

7/1/2014

By J. LEVI BURNFIN

By J. LEVI BURNFIN

lburnfin@gctelegram.com

Through the first three games of Jake Curran's senior year at Garden City High School, he had thrown seven interceptions.

By the end of the year, Curran's first as a starting quarterback, he was a first team All-Western Athletic Conference selectionthrowing just two picks in the final seven games of the 2012 season and connecting on 10 touchdown passesand was heading to Garden City Community College. But there he sat for his freshman season, behind offensive dynamo Nick Marshall, who led the Busters to a bowl win.

Coming into his sophomore season, though, Curran was sure he had a good chance to win the starting job, with Marshall en route to Auburn. Instead, Curran was beaten out in fall practice by Akeem Jones, leaving Curran in a back-up role once again.

"I couldn't do much my freshman year with Nick (Marshall) in front of me," Curran said. "I didn't want to sit again, so I had to find a way to get onto the field."

By the end of the 2013 season, Curran was the unquestioned starter and had impressed enough to find his way to Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, where Curran signed a letter of intent to play under new head coach Matt Drinkall.

Drinkall said he was drawn to Curran precisely because of what Curran has had to overcome on the gridiron.

"He knows how to deal with adversity, obviously," Drinkall said, adding that Curran fits the mold of the quarterback he wants to run his up-tempo, spread offense.

"There's some really easy selling points (about Curran)," Drinkall said. "It was easy to see on film that he met a lot of the physical abilities we're looking for, but getting to meet him in person solidified everything we wanted to know."

Drinkall said that while Curran has a quiet personality, he seems to have a leadership quality that is vital at quarterback, something Curran says comes from having to fight for a spot on the field.

"I know what it's like to be a backup, and I know what it's like to play," Curran explained. "I know you've got to just stay positive. I know what everybody goes through, and I think that helps me relate to everybody."

The Busters went 3-1 to begin the season with Curran on the bench in 2013, but with starter Akeem Jones battling injuryand ineffectivenessagainst Fort Scott on Sept. 28, Curran started and led the Busters to a 33-14 win.

Jones started again the following week against Butler, but continued to struggle, prompting Curran's insertion as the starter.

Curran was ineffective, as well, though, going just 6-of-21 for 74 yards, a touchdown and a pick.

"I didn't come in as ready as I should have," Curran said.

But, true to his form, Curran remained optimistic, and kept improving, despite the Busters' downturn in record, losing four of the final five games. Against Highland on Oct. 12, Curran accounted for 273 of the Busters' 300 offensive yards.

The Busters still lost, but the starting job was now Curran's.

He finished the season with a modest 838 yards, but had seven touchdowns to just three interceptions, impressing enough to continue his college career at Wesleyan, where, of course, Curran will be battling for the starting position with returner Sam Vaughanthe backup for the Coyotes in 2013who will graduate after this season.

"I imagine going into fall camp, Jake and Sam will be duking it out a little bit," Drinkall said.

The two are similar style quarterbacks, according to Drinkall, with Vaughan possessing the bigger arm, but Curran more accurate.

They're both bigger, at 6-foot-3 for Curran and 6-4 for Vaughan, and have done very well academically, with Curran's 3.9 grade-point average and Vaughan's 4.0.

"(Curran) wants to earn it," Drinkall said. "I think that speaks volumes of his character."

Curran is ready for the challenge yet again.

"I feel like I have a good chance, just because of the competition I played against," Curran, who will be pursuing pre-med at Wesleyan, said. "Nothing is guaranteed. This game is supposed to be fun, supposed to be enjoyable. And if you want to enjoy it, you're going to have to put the work in at that level."

The Coyotes were 4-7 in 2013 under previous head coach David Dallas, while Drinkall was 7-4 at Saint Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, in 2013.

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