L’liott Curry has overcome injury and adversity in his journey from UCO to Henderson State University. Now entering his final year at Henderson State, Curry has a chance to make it to the next level.
It was supposed to be L’liott Curry’s breakout season. After redshirting in 2015, and paying his dues in 2016, Curry started every game at wide receiver for the University of Central Oklahoma Bronchos. He finished the year with 32 catches for 600 yards and six touchdowns. The surge in production seemed like it was only the beginning for Curry at UCO. The Bronchos tabbed him as one of their key players entering 2018, and Curry lived up to the label early on by hauling in 9 receptions for 163 yards and two touchdowns in the first two games of the season. Then, in the fourth game of the season, everything changed for Curry.
On September 22, 2018, UCO hosted Northwest Missouri. Lined up in the slot, Curry ran a slant over the middle colliding with the safety. The hit would result in a Grade 5 AC separation in his left shoulder. The injury would sideline Curry for the rest of the year. It would be the last time Curry would suit up for the Bronchos. He finished his career at UCO with 963 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“After I got injured, a lot of things started going downhill, honestly,” Curry said. “I was unmotivated to go to school, so I ended up failing a class. That put me in the hot seat with the coaches. After that, everything started trickling down and eventually, they had to part ways with me.”
It was supposed to be Curry’s breakout season. Instead, it ended with him getting kicked off the team. For the first time in his football career, his future was uncertain. Curry calls it one of the worst times of his life.
“Things were going all bad for me that year,” Curry said. “My shoulder was messed up, and football was taken away from me. A lot of people can’t admit when they are, but I was going through a really hard time. That was the first time that an injury took me away from the game, so my mental state—it was all bad. I didn’t know what to do or what my next move was going to be. That was one of the hardest times of my life that I have ever gone through.”
Without a scholarship and a place to workout, Curry received a call from a familiar friend. Reggie Callins, the father of Curry’s former Guthrie teammate Kai Callins, reached out to Curry after he was kicked off the UCO football team. Callins offered him a place to workout. Curry got that and a whole lot more.
“That man was such a great help to me,” Curry said. “He pushed me, motivated me, and gave me a lot of leadership. He gave me a different perspective on how I should’ve handled things and where I should go. He was a big part of me recovering mentally and physically. He took my game to another level.”
While Curry was putting in the work with Callins, his game film started to work its way through the Great American Conference. A few schools reached out, but Henderson State proved to be the right fit for Curry’s future.
“To be honest, they weren’t the first team I was thinking about going to, but once they started breaking everything down to me, it made sense,” Curry said. “They had all the pieces, they just needed one more receiver to be explosive.”
With Curry in the fold, the Reddies finished the 2019 season with a record of 9-3—Henderson State’s best record in six years. Curry exploded on to the scene, hauling in 84 receptions for 1,167 yards and 14 touchdowns in 12 games. He was named a Second Team All-American, a unanimous First Team All-GAC selection and a First Team All-Super Region 3 honoree in his first year on campus. On top of all the awards, Curry also received a medical redshirt midway through the season, allowing him to return to Henderson State next year for his senior year.
“This was all a blessing in disguise,” Curry said. “Everything fell into place for me. I was banking on only having one more year left, but everything played out the way I wanted it to, which is crazy. I ended up having a great season and I get to graduate in May. So next year, I’ll be getting my masters and playing football.”
That extra year of eligibility could prove to be a big one for Curry. The 6’2”, 210-pound wide receiver has garnered some attention from NFL scouts. If things continue to fall in place for Curry, it’s possible Guthrie could have produced another NFL talent.
“I didn’t think it was possible until a scout came in and said he wanted to talk to me,” Curry said. “I’ve had quite a few of them come through Henderson State to talk to me, so I know it’s a real possibility now. I’m on the radar now. All I have to do is go out there this season and do what I did last year or even better and I’ll be on a roster somewhere. I know God has a plan for me.”
When asked what it is like to look back at his journey from UCO to Henderson State and how he overcame adversity and injury, Curry didn’t hesitate to answer the question.
“It doesn’t matter what happens when adversity hits, it’s about how you respond to it,” Curry said. “And that’s what I say my story has been. Adversity hit me and I could’ve given up and quit, but I looked adversity in the face and said ‘come on, let’s go.’”