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Arkansas Razorbacks target Carius Curne aims for deep playoff run with Marion after strong summer

Three of Curne's eight offers are from SEC programs

Following an impressive - yet surprising to some - finish in the 2021 6A semifinals, Marion felt extra confident that it could go a step further heading into last season. 

While they did earn seven victories and a third-place finish in the 6A-East, the Patriots were derailed by injuries and upset 23-6 by Mountain Home in the first round. 

Carius Curne suffered a minor injury that kept him out for one game midway through the season, but despite being a raw sophomore he started nine contests at left tackle. His production eventually led to his first FBS offer from Memphis a few months following the conclusion of the season. 

Curne, 6-4, 310, is a three-star prospect per 247Sports and the 25th offensive tackle in the Class of 2025. Along with Arkansas, Curne has SEC offers from Mississippi State and Ole Miss. 

Arkansas was Curne's first Power 5 offer on June 7, but the Razorbacks were actually one of the very first to spark interest in him months prior to that.

"Arkansas had come by, and they were here last year," Marion offensive coordinator Zach Tribble said. "(Arkansas offensive line) Coach (Cody) Kennedy had known about Carius and kind of said that this is a guy we are going to be on."

Curne attended a mega camp at SMU on June 3, and it was there the national attention took off. 

"That day he popped off in front of multiple schools that ended up offering him - Liberty, Texas State, SMU," Tribble said. "That is when all of the national articles started hitting on him."

The Patriots then attended a camp at Arkansas a few days later where head coach Sam Pittman extended the offer to Curne. 

"It is all just so exciting and hard to put into words," Curne said. "I am just blessed to receive all of this and I would not be here without my coaches."

Curne will visit two-time defending national champion Georgia this weekend and has also sparked a lot of interest from national power Alabama. 

Marion head coach Lance Clark describes Curne as a "late bloomer" due to the fact that has only played on the interior line since ninth grade. He had hardly any experience playing prior to junior high and initially was a skill player.

"He did not play football growing up really and when he did he played wide receiver," Clark said. "Playing for the freshman team was his starting point."

While national exposure at such a quick pace can sometimes have a negative effect on an athlete, Clark was pleased to mention that it has done the opposite for Curne. 

"Sometimes a kid's head can get too big and they will stop working," Clark said. "I am going to be honest - that was a concern of mine and it always is with recruits. However I will tell you, what it has done for him is it has locked him in more and he is more coachable than he has ever been. 

"It has made him a better teammate and worker because I think he sees his potential."

Curne echoed Clark, saying that he is far from where he wants to be. 

"I think I am doing pretty good and am liking my progress, but still have a ways to go," he said. "I feel like I have really improved on following through as well as being better with my hands and footwork."

Clark mentioned that Curne's progress from lifting has also played a major role in his development. 

"This is the first offseason that he has been in the weight room," Clark said. "He went from 275 to 310 in like three months. 

"Last offseason he was starting as a sophomore because he was big, strong and athletic," Clark said. "He did an okay job, but frankly was not our best offensive lineman.

"However, because of his natural gifts he was good enough. We do believe that this year he should be one of the best in the state for his classification."

The Patriots expect some big things from not just their offense that returns 10 full-time starters, but especially up front with Curne and the rest of the line back, as well as two additional key contributors. Curne will remain at left tackle to protect quarterback Ashton Gray's blindside.

"We want to be physical and stay positive," Curne said. "Also, we want to make sure that we put ourselves in position to be at home during the playoffs."

Clark added that he and his staff also expect Curne to play 20-30 percent of the defensive snaps, the side some programs are recruiting him to play.

"As a recruit he is an interesting one - Arkansas I think likes him at both o and d-line, Mississippi State likes him at d-line, Ole Miss likes him at o-line," Clark said. "Everybody kind of picks their preference and that is really rare for linemen. You see that with wide receivers and defensive backs, but rarely with big guys."

That being said, no matter what route Curne goes, Clark is confident in saying the best is yet to come. 

"He has needed to take accountability and ownership, which this process has helped him do that," Clark said. "I truly think he is at the beginning of whatever this will be. 

"We are in the cooling off period of offers, but if he starts the season the way he is preparing to then I think there are some other things that will pop and he will get to choose where to go to college if he minds his Ps and Qs."

Photo by Chuck Livingston