Cameron Craig still a winner

It's a feel good story that doesn't feel so good anymore and that's a damn shame. Because Army defensive end Cameron Craig deserved better than this. Craig was sent home by the Indianapolis Colts from rookie mini-camp after he failed a physical. Although he was a long shot to make the team, Craig was expected to be with the defending Super Bowl champs during training camp.

Now, his future is up in the air. But don't count out Craig. Just look how far he came at Army.

He weighed only 221 pounds as a freshman in 2003 and finished his career at 250.

This is what Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said about Craig in 2005 after the Cyclones escaped West Point with a 28-21 victory: "He could play for any team in the Big 12. Cameron Craig could play for Texas or Oklahoma; he is that good." And what about the NFL?

Army has had a lot of players get a shot at the NFL. The long list includes quarterback Ronnie McAda (Green Bay/Denver), running back Michael Wallace (Indianapolis), kicker Eric Olsen (Indianapolis), defensive lineman C.W. Estes (Giants) and linebacker Lyle Weaver (New York Jets).

But Craig has an advantage. A department of Army policy called the alternative service option allows West Point athletes who sign pro contracts in any sport to service two years active duty and six years in the reserves upon graduation. Most graduates normally serve at least five years active duty.

Former Army football and baseball player Josh Holden was the first West Point athlete to advantage of the program in the spring of 2005. He is now playing Class A minor league baseball in the Cincinnati Reds organization.

Despite being hampered by a bum ankle, sustained in October against UConn, Craig had another good year. He finished third on the team with 64 tackles, including 17 for a loss, and 3.5 sacks. Craig graduates as Army's all-time sacks leader. The highlight of Craig's fine season might have came during Army's 28-24 loss to Texas A&M last Saturday in San Antonio. Texas A&M tailback Jorvorskie Lane, a load at 6-foot, 272 pounds, abused Army defenders all night. He scored three touchdowns.

But Craig, who is 6-3, 251, stuffed the so-called J-Train for a 4-yard loss on a fourth down on the Aggies' 30-yard line late in the fourth quarter. The play gave the Black Knights a shot at the upset.

Let's hope Craig shows off some of those hits to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.

Extra points: Former Army center Pete Bier has been invited to the Green Bay Packers rookie camp later this month. He is a long shot to get signed. Former Army running back Scott Wesley was invited to the Detroit Lions rookie camp last year and cut.

Looking ahead: Army strong safety Caleb Campbell is expected to get an NFL look next season.


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