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BOWLING GREEN - Playing right guard on Bowling Green State University's offensive line, Brandon Curtis often goes unnoticed. Even more often he goes unrewarded.
But Curtis always was noticed during his high school years at Springfield South near Dayton. Literally. Always.
In other words, Curtis was never once absent or tardy for four years. Unassuming of a star athlete? Sure. But Curtis is a rare one. He was president of the library club (just what that is will be explained later), graduated with a 4.0 GPA, was a member of National Honor Society, and an admitted teacher's pet.
A quick clarification confirms that those descriptions defy every stereotype associated with a muscle-bound football jock.
"Everybody liked me," said Curtis, a fourth-year junior. "I was an athlete but I also took care of my academics. Teachers respected me in high school."
That is a healthy balance for a person who has almost always been healthy.
Curtis' perfect attendance streak dates back well before high school. He recalls missing school just once - in sixth grade - because he went out of town with his mother.
Twice during Curtis' senior year he came close to ending his ironman streak. He battled an ear infection for an entire day, one where "I thought I was going to die" before going to the hospital after school. Sure enough he was back roaming the hallways before the first bell the following day. And then there was the day Curtis left school in the afternoon to undergo a procedure to remove an ingrown toenail. But half days count, so take that Cal Ripken Jr.
"I enjoy going to school, personally," Curtis said. "I was drilled on getting good grades so I might as well go to school and learn something."
Katheryn Curtis is a registered nurse, so playing hooky wasn't easy for her son. Truthfully, though, there were not many instances of Brandon faking a stomach ache or holding a thermometer above the stove so he could stay home and play video games.
"He pretty much wanted to go to school," Katheryn said. "He couldn't fake for sure, but he wasn't sick that often and it seemed like he enjoyed school."
And school enjoyed him.
A class clown to a degree, Curtis befriended the staff at South with a sense of humor that came to a halt when it came time to buckle down.
"He tried to put on what he thought was his charm - his smile, his chuckle," said Curtis' science teacher of three years, Rachel Sanders. "Brandon was your comic relief, but he could get serious if we got off track. Sometimes you wouldn't have to redirect; he would take care of it."
He also took care of the books.
Curtis isn't much of a reader, but he routinely killed time in the school library, chatting with fellow students and faculty members. Eventually his presence resulted in a job that lasted three years. Curtis organized shelves, collected outstanding books and coordinated events.
"It started off that I needed to fill a class and I went in there and used to suck up to them so much, and eventually they made me the library president," Curtis said.
During holiday breaks at BGSU, Curtis frequents the weight room at South. While there he spends time with current athletes, encouraging them to strive for greatness in all phases of life. Of course he also visits his favorite teachers from the past, including Sanders, who attended the Falcons' homecoming game this year not because she's a BGSU alum but because "I'm a Brandon fan.
"You have this big kid in your class. You expect him to be mean, rip your head off, but he wasn't," Sanders said of the 6-foot-2, 285-pound Curtis. "He was just a real nice man."
Curtis spoke to his teammates at the hotel prior to BG's win at Eastern Michigan last Friday - a game where the offensive line was named offensive player(s) of the game. Curtis preached that the Falcons need to play with urgency and talked about wanting to abuse the Eagles' defensive linemen that he would be blocking that evening.
"I was kind of nervous but it was something I needed to get off my chest anyway," Curtis said.
Curtis, a Visual Communications Technology major, has something else he wants to get off his chest.
"I try to make it to all of my classes but some days you're just a little sore or sick," he said. "And I don't have my mom around."
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