After two redshirt seasons, the goal is pretty cut and dry for Stillmore native Curtis Fann: to finally make his own way as a Florida State University Seminole. It has been an uphill battle for the former ECI Bulldog standout since he arrived on campus in 2019, but the future is bright for our determined, talented homegrown.
Technically speaking, his journey to Tallahassee started when he was 7-years-old. He quickly developed into a four-star prospect at ECI under the tough but sound coaching of Chris Kearson. By the time he was a sophomore, he had garnered offers from some of the top football programs around the country, including South Carolina, Alabama, LSU, North Carolina State, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Louisville, Oregon, and, of course, Florida State. He attended several camps and took many unofficial visits, but heavy pursuit from the ‘Noles coaching staff and one visit was all it took. He was sold. Fann committed to FSU in June 2018, took his official visit on December 14, and signed just five days later.
“There was a family atmosphere there, but it also felt different than what I was used to here at home. I wanted to get away, see a different culture. I didn’t want to go somewhere where it was going to feel the same as home. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone a little bit,” Fann said about FSU as he recalled mulling over his options on the table in high school. “Florida State also recruited me differently, connected with me deeper, than everybody else did. It just felt right to choose them. It just clicked.”
He stuck to his guns and never de-committed. Fann stayed the course, graduated from high school, packed his belongings, and moved four hours away from home to Florida’s capitol. He arrived on campus in June 2019 rated No. 29 nationally according to Rivals and 17th among strongside defensive ends by 247. Overall, Fann was ranked No. 143 in ESPN300 at the time.
Early on, he was expected to line up at strongside end for FSU. As a true freshman, Fann headed into an FSU team deep with ends, and he knew that meant he’d have to work relentlessly to find a spot in the rotation. Still, he had no way of knowing the fight the next two seasons would entail.
Fann redshirted his first year in Tallahassee in 2019 and used that year to work with FSU’s scout team. In March 2020, he had surgery to correct a labrum injury. Despite months of rehab, that injury didn’t improve quickly enough to the standard Fann set for himself—but it didn’t matter in the long run because COVID happened, so he got to redshirt a second time.
Heading into this season in his third year at FSU, Fann finds himself in a unique situation in that he has four years of eligibility remaining. He has used this offseason to beef up, adding 15 pounds to go from 250 to 265. Those extra pounds, in addition to his standing 6’3”, make him a physical specimen fit to fight off blocks and get up field consistently.
Although he has yet to line up alongside his fellow Seminoles in a game yet, he’s got plenty of memories and has learned a great deal. Tied for his favorite occurrence as a ‘Nole are beating North Carolina (because no one expected his squad to do so) and getting to travel with the team to Miami rivalry game. The 2020 season just wrapped up in December, but he’s looking forward to next season already—and soaking in the process.
“I came from a really good high school football program coached by one of the best, Coach Kearon. He always pushed me, stayed hard on me. That helped immediately when I got down here. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m using the foundation I built at ECI, thanks to Coach Kearson. I know I have to stay focused, pay attention to the little details, get stronger, keep my head up, and be mentally strong,” Fann explained. “I’m in a situation right now where I’m disappointed but happy. I had all these aspirations when I got here and I still do—but it hasn’t been what I expected. At the same time, I’m so blessed to be here and I’m blessed to have four more years to get better and accomplish all the things I’ve set my mind to.”
One of those things, first and foremost, is to graduate, and he appears to be well on his way as he was named a Seminole Scholar this past academic year. He is majoring in sports management with ambitions of either getting into coaching or being an agent. On the athletic front, Fann plans to give it all he’s got as a Seminole, contribute in any way he can, become a better pass rusher, and hopefully make it big. No matter what, he wants to give back to his community in some way and repay the folks who have believed in and supported him throughout his journey.
One of those people, Fann says, is a woman near and dear to his heart, Faneshia Fann. Others include Curtis L. Fann, Curtis B. Fann Sr., Calley Mack, Felicia Sanders, Katrina Harris, Lou Ann Mack, Theodis Johnson, Dorothy Fann, Coach Kearson, his teammates, and the FSU staff.
To everyone back home, Fann’s words are few but simple. “Humbly, I’m living the dream… But I haven’t really accomplished anything yet. I know the best is yet to come, and I’m going to try my best to make everyone proud. I’m thankful for everybody who helped me along the way.”
For current student-athletes who are looking to play at the next level like Fann, he has a few words of advice, starting with not rushing the recruiting process. He also suggests enjoying where you’re at right now because “the real world is real.” Cherish every moment, be humble, and trust that your time will come with the right work ethic.