USU athletics: Utah State honors two former football players for Homecoming

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Sept. 29 2012 9:57 a.m. MDT

As part of the 2012 homecoming celebration at Utah State University, two former student-athletes are being honored as dignitaries. Paul Jones, along with his wife Sylvia, have been selected as Alumni of the Year, while Kevin Curtis will serve as Grand Marshal.

Jones, a former two-sport athlete, competed in football and track and field for the Aggies from 1981-84. Curtis spent two years as a wide receiver at Utah State (2001-02), following a two-year mission for the LDS Church and a two-year stint at Snow College.

Jones graduated from USU in 1986 with a degree in speech communications. He has spent the last 26 years in higher education and is now the interim president of Georgia College and State University.

“It’s rather humbling. It’s a tremendous honor,” Jones said. “When you think about the university’s rich history and all the people who have come through here, to receive such recognition is just overwhelming. We are both extremely honored.”

Jones met his wife at Utah State, and they have two children who attend USU as student-athletes. Their son Isaiah is a senior cornerback on the football team and daughter Daphne competes in the long jump and triple jump on the track and field team.

“We both understand the value of athletics, and the powerful way it can impact lives. It wasn’t so much following our footsteps, but knowing what this kind of experience can provide - the lessons learned on the field, how to work with a team, working through adversity,” Jones said. “From that perspective we are pleased they are having that kind of experience. We know the impact it will have on them 20-30 years from now.”

Curtis began his career at Utah State as a walk-on but led the nation in receptions that season, earning him third-team All-American honors. He was put on scholarship for his senior season. Today, he still holds the USU record for most 100-yard receiving games at 16. He graduated from Utah State in 2003 with a bachelor's degree in business marketing and was drafted by the St. Louis rams as the 74th overall pick in the the third round of that year’s NFL draft.

In 2007, Curtis moved from St. Louis to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he played for three years. He set career highs with a total of 1,110 yards, 77 receptions and six touchdowns. He was only the 11th receiver in Eagles’ history to hit the 1,000-yards mark. While battling injuries, Curtis spent the last two seasons moving between the Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans. He is currently a free agent.

“I hate to admit it, but I really didn’t even know what a grand marshal was when they asked me. I haven’t really ever been able to make it back for Homecoming, but have always wanted to,” Curtis said. “I’m honored that they would select me, and I’m excited to be back.”

As they left their athletic careers at Utah State behind, both Curtis and Jones said there were countless lessons and experiences they had that have helped them get through the professional world.

As he started in the NFL, Curtis said the way he learned under then head coach Mick Dennehy helped him get through the tough times.

“I didn’t know there was so much to learn. I think some of the coaching I had at Utah State kind of opened my eyes to how much more I could improve as a player,” Curtis said. “When I showed up to the pros, I felt a little overwhelmed and almost like I’d hit a wall just because there were so many guys who were better than me. I just used the same approach of trying to improve each day – the method that helped me as a walk-on at Utah State.”

As Jones worked his way up through the ranks of his career, he was never scared about anything because of the things he learned as a student-athlete.

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