HATTIESBURG, MS - "As soon as I caught it I just turned around and I kind of knew I was gone," said Southern Miss junior defensive back Curtis Mikell. "There wasn't anybody near me. So if you ain't close, you're probably not going to catch me."
Most of the time, when you intercept a ball in the end zone, coaches want you to kneel down for the touchback. But not if your name's Curtis "Speedy" Mikell.
"He said kneel down if you see people in front of you but if not, take off," Mikell said.
"At first I was like, okay we got it, we got a touchback," said Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson. "And anytime you take it out of the end zone, your heart skips a beat. But once he got past the first guy there on the one, I knew he was gone."
They call him "Speedy" for a reason.
Mikell has been torching his opponents on the field and the track ever since he was a Bassfield Yellowjacket.
At just 5-8, Mikell credits the small town of Bassfield for the origin of his agility.
"They say it's in the water," Mikell said. "There's nothing to do in Bassfield so we just play a lot of football, we train a lot. We train in Bassfield and when we're not playing football,l we're just working out. Playing seven on seven, just getting better every day, like you're supposed to."
After spending his first two Golden Eagle seasons on both sides of the ball, Mikell seems to have found his role on defense as a cover corner who mostly comes in during dime packages and third down situations.
"On offense I was mostly used for jet sweeps and passes," Mikell said. "That's why I like defense. I can just catch people and catch interceptions."
Mikell isn't normally in the game in goal line situations like Saturday against UTEP, but as his fellow Bassfield teammate Cornell Armstrong went to the sidelines, it was Speedy's turn.
"Coach [Hopson] gave me the chance to get out there and play and that's all I've been waiting on," Mikell said. "Whenever they need me, whenever they call my number, I'm running."
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