Player Spotlight: Jack Crawford
Penn State defensive end Jack Crawford is no stranger to homesickness.
Originally from London, England, Crawford only makes the trip back home to see his family about once a year. In fact, Crawford’s mother, along with his two older brothers, traveled to Happy Valley to see her first Nittany Lion football game on Sept. 10, when Alabama came to town.
“They couldn’t believe the atmosphere of Penn State and Beaver Stadium,” Crawford said.
Crawford was excited to see his family, because he so rarely gets to spend time with them. But Crawford, who originally came to the United States to pursue basketball, has found a second home within the Penn State football program, making all the sacrifices he has made to be here worth it.
Crawford, a senior, joined the Nittany Lions in 2008. He was one of three true freshmen to play in every game, along with Michael Mauti and Brandon Beachum.
Crawford played defensive tackle and tight end during his freshman season. He made four tackles in 2008, three of which were solo tackles. He also had two pass break-ups.
In his sophomore season in 2009, Crawford became a starter at a new position: defensive end. Crawford made 31 tackles throughout the season. He recovered two fumbles, had one forced fumble and three pass break-ups.
Crawford ranked ninth in the Big Ten for negative yardage plays; he made at least one negative yardage plays in 10 separate games. His ability to lead teams to lose yardage also earned him honorable mention all-conference honors.
Crawford ranked tenth in the Big Ten for sacks; he made 5.5 during the season. He played for a total of 677 snaps in 2009, the sixth highest number of snaps played by a veteran player.
Coming off an impressive sophomore season, Crawford struggled in 2010. He played in ten games and started only seven. Crawford played for 395 snaps, making 14 tackles, 4.5 of which were for negative yardage. He also made two sacks during the season.
Crawford missed three games in 2010 after suffering a foot injury. He had surgery to repair his foot in January, causing him to miss spring practice.
But, with the 2011 season underway, Crawford looks as good as new. In Penn State’s first three games, Crawford has made nine tackles, one of which was a solo tackle. Crawford has also made .5 sacks and has broken up two passes.
Looking forward to this Saturday’s game against Eastern Michigan, Crawford knows what he needs to focus on defensively.
“What stood out to me was their quarterback,” Crawford said. “He likes to move; he’s very elusive.”
Crawford is prepared to make plays against Eastern Michigan’s quarterback, Alex Gillett, and he hopes that the rest of the defense can focus on making big plays as well.
“We just have to really try and contain him,” Crawford said. “I think that comes from getting pressure on him too. Once we make him scramble and put pressure on him, I think, hopefully, he’ll make some bad decisions so we can get some turnovers.”
With Crawford at defensive end, there is no doubt that Gillett will be feeling the pressure. Crawford plays confidently, and is not afraid to go after the quarterback in order to make a big play. Crawford is able to expertly keep his eye on the ball and elude blockers, leading him not only to gain access to the quarterback, but to break-up passes as well.
Gillett and the rest of the Eastern Michigan Eagles will travel to Happy Valley on Saturday, Sept. 24 to take on Crawford and the rest of the Penn State team.
Breanna Jacobs is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact her, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.