Hometown: Amityville, NY
Record: 31-17, Bowl Record: 0-3
West Virginia’s own Amityville Horror (too obvious for yesterday’s teaser), Canute Curtis, terrorized quarterbacks in the Big East during the mid-1990s. Curtis earned the starting spot at rush linebacker by his sophomore season and would anchor the defense for 36 consecutive starts. Like a fine wine, Curtis only got better with age. By his senior season in 1996, Curtis had molded himself into one of the most feared pass rushers in the country. He would get to the quarterback for 16.5 sacks as a senior, second most in the nation and a WVU single season record. He led the Mountaineer defense to a #1 ranking in total defense. His monstrous performance in 1996 earned him 1st team All-Big East, consensus 1st team All-America, Big East Defensive Player of the Year, Bronko Nagurski Award finalist, and Dick Butkus Award finalist. For his career, Curtis finished with 192 tackles, 6 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, and a school record 34.5 sacks. He is now a member of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame. Curtis would end up playing in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals for six seasons, but never was able to duplicate his 1996 performance in the pros. I guess that was to be expected though, as Cincinnati is a black hole for talented athletes.
Memorable Game: The 1996 season was one that had Mountaineer fans thinking of championships. To get to that level, West Virginia would have to win some big road games like that against Purdue in Week 4 of the season. The Mountaineer defense set the tone for the afternoon, pummeling Purdue QB Dicken and forcing 4 interceptions. Canute Curtis had his best day statistically, beating down the Boilermakers with 8 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and an interception. The West Virginia defense choked out Purdue’s offense all afternoon, allowing only one score in the Mountaineers 20-6 victory.
Competition: Holding the WVU record for career sacks and sacks in a single season are more than enough to seal Curtis’ selection for the #42 slot. I will provide a few great honorable mentions though: Jay Henry and Adrian Murrell.
Teaser: Tomorrow we go with a more recent and more versatile defender. This player was known just as much for his ability to sack the quarterback as much as he was for his pass coverage. However, according to 6’6 240, he is best known for his “mean picks.”