WVU Sports Hall of Fame
Written by Bryan Messerly
One of West Virginia’s most decorated defenders, Canute Curtis was a three-year starter at rush linebacker, appearing in 43 games with 36 career starts from 1993-96.
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A native of Amityville, N.Y., Curtis earned consensus All-America honors in 1996 after anchoring the nation’s No. 1-rated defense. The 1996 BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year, he ranks first in the WVU record books in career sacks (34.5) and single season sacks (16.5). As a senior, he ranked second in the nation with 16.5 sacks for 121 yards. A finalist for the Dick Butkus and Bronko Nagurski Awards, he made 67 tackles in 1996, while leading the Mountaineers to an 8-4 record and a Gator Bowl appearance.
Playing for coach Don Nehlen, Curtis made 192 tackles (126 solo), six forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and 15 career pass breakups. In four years, he helped WVU to a 31-17 record and three bowl appearances. In his career, he made 35 consecutive starts.
During his senior season, Curtis paced the 1996 defense that ranked first nationally in total defense (217.5), second in rush defense (61.5), fourth in scoring defense (12.4) and fifth in pass efficiency defense (86.8).
Curtis was a unanimous selection to the all-BIG EAST first team as a senior and earned second team honors as a junior. In 1996, he was named as the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week three times. His 16.5 season sacks mark currently ranks fourth in BIG EAST history and also ranks fourth among BIG EAST career sack leaders.
A 1997 graduate of WVU, Curtis was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the sixth round of the NFL draft. In six years with the Bengals, he appeared in 70 games and started at linebacker in 15 contests.
In the 2001 season, he appeared in all 16 games and started four times, registering 28 tackles.
The 2002 season was his final NFL season, and it may have been his best campaign. He played in all 16 games for coach Dick LeBeau and started at outside linebacker 11 times. He finished ninth on the team with 51 tackles.
In his career with the Bengals, he made 101 tackles and had three quarterback sacks.
In 2004, Curtis started his coaching career as a linebackers coach at Towson. After one season there, he spent three years as defensive line and special teams coordinator at Tennessee State. Curtis spent the 2008 season as defensive line coach at Hampton before returning to Towson, where he has been defensive line coach for the past two seasons.
Curtis and his wife, LaToya, have two children, Logan, who was named after former WVU teammate and NFL player Mike Logan, and Cydney.