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Curley Culp Arizona State 1967

The consensus All-Americans of 1967 contained some great players. 1967

Legendary players like OJ Simpson, Offensive Tackle Ron Yary, Miami Fullback Larry Csonka, Purdue Running Back Leroy Keyes, Tennessee Center Bob Johnson, the Mad Stork from Miami Ted Hendricks, and USC Defensive End Tim Rossovich were on the consensus team. Also included was UCLA Quarterback Gary Beban who beat out OJ Simpson and Leroy Keyes for the Heisman that season. USC vs UCLA 1967    Heisman

But, a great player that didn’t make that list was Arizona State’s Curley Culp.

If you grew up watching Westerns on television you undoubtedly have heard of Yuma, Arizona.

Located on the Colorado River in the Southwestern section of the state of Arizona, the city of Yuma was famous for it’s territorial prison. 3:10 to Yuma was one of the better movies mentioning the prison.

While famous in Westerns, Yuma is one of the last places you’d expect a Pro Football Hall of Fame member to be from. But, it is the home town of former NFL great, Curley Culp.

The youngest in a family with 13 children, Culp was raised on a farm and could be considered what we used to call ‘country strong’. His great strength came from working the farm and he never had the chance to lift weights.

The 6-2, 265 Culp was a champion wrestler and an outstanding Defensive Lineman as well as being an A student. Culp was such an athlete that he played some Fullback.

He was highly recruited out of high school for both football and wrestling. Luckily, Arizona State had a good wrestling program and an excellent football team with head coach Frank Kush.

Kush was one of the better all time college coaches, but was not well known because his career was at Arizona State of the Western Athletic Conference. Even though he won and had a life time coaching record of 176 – 54 – 1 after being hired by the Sun Devils to be their head coach in 1958.

Kush won big at Arizona State and he had no issues signing the super quick and talented Defensive Lineman Curley Culp in 1964.

Of course, true freshmen were not eligible for varsity play in those years even in wrestling.

Culp was impressive as a heavyweight college wrestler, actually much more than that. He could have been called magnificent, or majestic, or even spectacular. Mostly, he was just bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic than his opponents. It was almost unfair to his opponents. As a college wrestler, Culp posted a record of 84-9-4. The surprising element regarding his career record is that anyone beat him at all. Culp was national champ in 1967 as a junior.

But, Curley Culp’s future was in football.

Culp was a super Defensive Lineman for the Sun Devils even though his sophomore and junior seasons were not great ones for Arizona State. In 1965, they finished with a 6-4 record and the 1966 season was a bleak 5-5 record. Those were two of the worst seasons the Sun Devils endured under Frank Kush.

As a senior in 1967 Culp helped the team to an 8-2 record. Culp made some All American teams but he was left off just enough to not make the consensus team which was a travesty.

In the days of such racial tension in America, Curley Culp was a really popular kid around campus. He was elected Homecoming King in 1967. He had a winning smile and he was an excellent student

as well as athlete.

The Denver Broncos drafted Curley Culp with their 2nd pick of the 1968 NFL Draft and they wanted him as an Offensive Guard, but he wound up with the Kansas City Chiefs.

At Kansas City, Culp moved inside and teamed up with Buck Buchanan and Jerry Mays up front and Linebackers Willie Lanier, Bobby Bell and Jim Lynch to form one of the better defenses of that time period and Super Bowl champions. The 6-7, 275 Buchanan, Willie Lanier and Culp are all in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Culp played for the Chiefs until 1974 when he was traded to the Houston Oilers. All in all, Culp played 14 seasons in the NFL.

On every level, Curley Culp was just too strong, too quick and too talented for most Offensive Lines. He always drew double teams and clogged up the middle for his defense. He was good against the run and against the pass and he eventually developed into one of the better Nose Guards that the game has ever seen.