Arizona State continues to ramp up its pass rush capability with the commitment of Koron Crump this week. A 6-foot-4, 220-pounder at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas by way of St. Louis, Crump is expected to graduate in December and arrive at ASU in January and be eligible for spring practices with three years to play two seasons.
In each of the last two seasons at Fort Scott, Crump had double digit sacks as an edge rusher who plays as an every down player from a 3-point stance but also operates from a 2-point stance at times. Some of our regional analysts on Scout believe Crump is a legitimate candidate as the top pass rusher his part of the country. His film certainly reflects a high level capability in this regard.
Crump has impressive quick twitch athleticism for 220 pounds, a freneticism he's able to harness relatively well in a way that gives opposing offensive linemen a lot of difficulty getting their hands located on him properly. You see a lot of offensive tackles just missing him entirely in close contact situations, which is an unteachable athletic gift, to a large degree. He leverages this ability by working either way off two way go opportunities once he's got tackles trying to quick set more aggressively to account for his explosive perimeter speed rush.
A lot of what Crump does is just an innate gift. He's able to twist, shift and otherwise adjust his body remarkably well while also firing up field and do so with great anticipation. He can drop his weight well and simply out-leverage blockers at times without even needing to include a strong pass rush move due to how quick he gets off the ball. That in and of itself is relatively rare and most Pac-12 teams only have one or two players -- if that -- capable of doing this, but Crump's going to have to become more skilled against higher level offensive linemen. He's not yet somehow who uses rip throughs to further advantage his leverage and sustain to the backfield through 50/50 situations in which he's partially blocked but stronger, more skilled players in such situations can still make plays.
What is somewhat limiting for Crump is that he's not yet big enough to be able to reliably unbalance linemen with strength or bull rush. So just as he's able to defeat blocks before they even happen with a greater regularity than a vast majority of players, when he does get initially blocked he's not as successful with recovering well enough to make plays. He's not a power rusher, not going to bull offensive tackles down their center and bowl them back into the quarterback or collapse the pocket in that way.
Right now, Crump looks more like a sub-package situational pass rusher than an every down player, though there are signs that may not always be the case. He's wiry strong but has a frame that can and should add quite a bit more weight for a junior college addition and that's one of his biggest needs. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Crump eventually play north of 240 pounds as an outside linebacker/hybrid rush end, and that's what he'll need to accomplish if he has aspirations beyond college.
At his current size, the questions will be how well he holds up against the run, will he be able to anchor and/or set the edge or get run off the line of scrimmage and easily attacked and absorbed in a way that makes him a liability on base downs. Even at the Devi backer position working into the boundary, Pac-12 teams do a tremendous job of generating numbers advantages in an effort to out-flank on runs or screens to that short sides and the edge has to be well set.
What offsets some of these concerns and gives Crump potential to eventually become an every down player at this level at Devil backer is his tremendous short area explosiveness and ability to be destabilizing against read option plays from the frontside or backside, as well as his backside pursuit chasing down the line of scrimmage. He's rare in his ability to force the handoff to the back on the play side and still be able to influence an interior run gap -- or more -- with his quickness. His pursuit of quarterbacks outside of the pocket or after plays have broken down is also a strength, as his his ability to recover.
Some of this is a double edged sword, as Crump will have to somehow find a balance between discipline and playmaking because he's the type of player who can lose contain while trying too hard to make a play, or work to get into the backfield in a way that advantages a defense with its play call or even takes him out of plays. He's also susceptible to motion flows that are disguised to get him to chase and wind up out of position.
Crump can drop to the short flat and play in some underneath zones but he's not a man coverage linebacker or hybrid player who is at his best having to change directions and run with pass catchers, even though his overall linear speed does give him some ability to hold up okay in this regard. This is why getting bigger and stronger is his pathway to maximizing potential, as opposed to playing lighter and further from the line of scrimmage.
We've seen a number of situational pass rushers have success in the Pac-12 in recent years, with Utah's Taumoepenu -- six sacks this season as a nickel down 3-point pass rusher, which is tied for third most in the league -- and UCLA's Deon Hollins being good examples. That's really Crump's floor from a capability standpoint. He's going to be able to play as a sub-package player and be successful rushing the quarterback. But what Crump as an advantage over some of those players is his length. He's taller and longer and that helps to thwart blocks and broaden out a skill set and also hints at the ability to carry more mass.
So where does Crump fit in defensively for ASU? Senior Devil backer Antonio Longino is leaving but the Sun Devils return redshirt freshman Ismael Murphy-Richardson to that role and he's shown a lot of promise this season. Then there's freshman Bo Wallace who is redshirting and someone we believe has a very high ceiling as a Devil backer once he fills out physically. The Sun Devils also took a commitment from California's top junior college pass rusher, at least statistically, Dougladson Subtyl, and he's heavier and more likely to be able to play the Devil on an every down basis.
Between Subtyl, Murphy-Richardson and Wallace, ASU should have good options at Devil, but Crump provides an additional possibility. A more likely pathway to playing time in the year ahead though is as a role similar to what Junior Onyeali had for the Sun Devils in coach Todd Graham's first year in Tempe. Onyeali typically bookended Devil backer Carl Bradford as a 3-point pass rusher in nickel situations and had six sacks with eight tackles for loss out of his 17 total tackles on the season.
If ASU can have an improved capability of getting to opposing quarterbacks on passing downs by just rushing four with some combination of of Subtyl, Crump, Murphy-Richardson, Wallace, and others including freshmen, Joseph Wicker, Jalen Bates and interior players including sophomore Tashon Smallwood and freshman George Lea, it could really broaden out its play calling and coverage possibilities further.
Another reasonable possibility is playing Crump on passing downs as a linebacker replacement at Spur or WILL. ASU sophomore D.J. Calhoun has had success playing in a nickel grouping this season and is tied for fifth in the Pac-12 with 5.5 sacks. Getting Crump on the field along with Calhoun and two other pass rushers in some configuration could really give the Sun Devils a boost.
One thing is clear: ASU's going to have more variety and redundancy in this regard in the coming years than has been the case in 2014 and 2015.