By JIMMY WATSON // Written for the LSWA
Already headed to California to begin classes at USC Jan. 5, Many linebacker Tackett Curtis made history in his home state this week by receiving the highest honor awarded by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association – Louisiana Mr. Football.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound enforcer becomes the first Many athlete to receive the designation since the LSWA began awarding the Mr. Football recognition in 1995. He joins a stellar list of previous honorees including Leonard Fournette, Ryan Perrilloux, Brock Berlin and Derek Stingley. He’s the second Mr. Football to choose USC joining John Curtis running back Joe McKnight in 2006.
The nephew of Many coach Jess Curtis and son of principal Moses Curtis, the recent high school graduate led the Tigers to four consecutive trips to Louisiana High School Athletic Association championship games. Many won the Class 2A title in 2020 in Northwestern’s Turpin Stadium, just a 25-minute drive up the road from Many. And Curtis capped his sterling career with a Non-Select Division III title a couple of weeks ago in New Orleans’ Caesar’s Superdome.
He selected USC last summer after narrowing his 40-plus offers to Ohio State and Wisconsin.
“There wasn’t a linebacker in the country we wanted more than Tackett Curtis,” USC coach Lincoln Riley said in his signing day news conference. “I think he’s the best inside linebacker in the country. There’s not one I would take over him.”
Serving the Tigers as the team’s quarterback this past season, as well as linebacker/safety and as a kick returner, Curtis compiled 112 tackles, including 16 for a loss, 6 sacks and 3 interceptions this season. He also rushed for 1,115 yards and 11 touchdowns with two of his biggest coming in the state championship game against Union Parish. The title game MVP was a finalist for the high school Butkus Award, which recognizes the top linebacker nationally.
“He’s kinda like a little John Rambo — he doesn’t show a lot of emotion,” Jess Curtis said. “He just does his job. He doesn’t like the limelight. He likes to play and play hard, and he’s done it the right way. He was always in the weight room at night, lifting, not for any fanfare — he just wants to be better.”
Curtis has won a multitude of awards during his prep career including LSWA 2A Defensive Player of the Year accolades as well as All-District 3-2A honors since arriving on the Sabine Parish football scene as a quiet, gangly freshman with a big upside. Moses Curtis said Tackett’s great grandfather, the late Leonard O’Neal Tackett, had a rough and rowdy past that might help explain some of Tackett’s grit on the gridiron.
“Papaw Tackett’s whole family is a bunch of Texas outlaws that came from Waco,” Moses said. “They grew up hard and were into the Bonnie and Clyde family. That side of the family was tied into Bonnie. They were some interesting people.”
Papaw Tackett was the first on his side of the family to attend, and graduate, from college. He earned a doctorate as a chiropractor, built a car from scratch and could fly an airplane. His great-grandson and namesake hits like a Mack truck, has made just one “B” in 12 years of school and will eventually earn a degree from one of the top universities in the country.
That apple apparently hasn’t fallen far.
Farm Bureau Insurance/LSWA Mr. Football
2022: Tackett Curtis, Many
2021: Landry Lyddy, Calvary Baptist
2020: Sage Ryan, Lafayette Christian
2019: Christian Westcott, Lakeshore
2018: Derek Stingley Jr., The Dunham School
2017: Anthony “Pooka” Williams, Hahnville
2016: Keytaon Thompson, Landry-Walker
2015: Lindsey Scott, Zachary
2014: Deshawn Capers-Smith, Warren Easton
2013: Leonard Fournette, St. Augustine
2012: John Diarse, Neville
2011: Landon Collins, Dutchtown
2010: Anthony Johnson, O. Perry Walker
2009: Gavin Webster, Lutcher
2008: Blake Matherne, Belle Chasse
2007: Randall Mackey, Bastrop
2006: Joe McKnight, John Curtis
2005: Charles Scott, Jonesboro-Hodge
2004: Ryan Perrilloux, East St. John
2003: Chris Markey, Jesuit
2002: Robert Lane, Neville
2001: Jason Miller, Iota
2000: Byron Robertson, St. Thomas Aquinas
1999: Brock Berlin, Evangel
1998: Bradie James, West Monroe
1997: Adam McConathy, West Monroe
1996: Travis Minor, Baton Rouge-Catholic
1995: Cecil Collins, Leesville