On the road map of Kentucky football hotbeds, Hopkinsville is always a frequent destination for college scouts.
The fertile western Kentucky town is drawing plenty of attention again this season as quarterback/safety Curtis Pulley has positioned himself as one of the Bluegrass State’s top players for the Class of 2005.
Through 11 games as a junior, Pulley (6-4, 190, 4.5) has completed 117 of 237 passes for 1,999 yards and 21 touchdowns while carrying the ball 130 times for 901 yards and 17 scores. He’s played only in crucial situations on defense, but has responded in those limited opportunities with 17 tackles, three pass break-ups and two interceptions.
“He’s a great-looking kid,” Hopkinsville coach Craig Clayton said. “He’s 6-foot-4, probably 190 pounds right now, and he should be about 200 or 210 by next year if he keeps developing and getting stronger. He ran a 4.5 forty this spring at the Auburn Nike camp. He’s a great all-around athlete. His name is already being tossed around as a Mr. Basketball candidate as well.”
Pulley helped lead the Tigers to a 33-3 record and the Sweet 16 state basketball tournament this spring. He was Hopkinsville’s second-leading scorer (15 ppg) and leading rebounder (9.1 rpg) while shooting 71 percent from the field.
It’s the gridiron, though, where his future lies.
“He’s that type of quarterback that everybody is looking for nowadays,” Clayton said. “He can beat you with his arm or his legs. I think he got a lot of people’s attention earlier this year when we played one of Tennessee’s better teams, Ridgeway from Memphis. He threw for about 170 and rushed for 120 in that one, and they had athletes all over the field. And it’s not just that game. We’ve played great competition all season, and he’s responded like that almost every week.”
Pulley’s outstanding numbers have come against a schedule that includes Ridgeway, the defending Tennessee Class 3A champions; Kentucky Class 4A runner-up and perennial power Louisville Male; Class A defending state champion Mayfield; 4A power Christian County (10-1) and 3A power Paducah Tilghman (11-0). Despite the weekly challenges, he’s led Hopkinsville to a 7-4 record and the second round of the 3A playoffs this weekend against 11-0 Bowling Green.
Clayton says he’s seen Pulley make tremendous strides as a quarterback from his sophomore to junior seasons.
“Curtis was just a runner and an athlete playing quarterback prior to this year, but he’s really developed into a complete quarterback,” he said. “He’s got an excellent arm, a really strong arm. We’ve dropped a lot of balls on him this year, or his stats would be even better. He really throws it hard for a high school kid. He’s also worked hard on his mechanics and has learned how to reading defenses.
“He just keeps on getting better. We had a good one in Deontey Kenner here, and I think he’s got a chance to be even better than Deontey. He has a bigger body and better overall tools at this point.”
Kenner went on to have a strong career at the University of Cincinnati, finishing as the Bearcats’ second-leading passer in school history from 1997-2000.
Pulley’s skills may also allow him to play defense if scouts decide he has better potential on that side of the ball.
“If he doesn’t play quarterback, he could be a big-time free safety or wide receiver,” Clayton said. “We’ve had a lot of good defensive backs come through here, and I thought he was the best free safety we’ve ever had as a sophomore. He’s the biggest hitter on our team. We use him sparingly on defense, but he’s really good when we put him at safety.
“I really think he’s going to wind up at quarterback, though. The way he’s progressed and the way coaches like kids who can run it or throw it at that position, he’s going to be hard to stick on defense.”
Clayton said several major programs have already expressed interest in his junior star.
“I don’t think he’s got any official offers right now, but I know Kentucky really wants him,” he said. “We’ve had a bunch ask for film already – Michigan State, Michigan, Louisville, Wisconsin, Indiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, Memphis. They’ve all sent me tapes to get some film of Curtis back to them.”