Toby Christensen said he credits his success to Crowton's abilities to recognize what he can and cannot do and utilizing his strengths within the offense.
"It (offense) changed a lot from LaVell (Edwards) to Crowton, but what Crowton does is he plays on strengths. The first year here, he had Luke Staley. He's an amazing, great athlete so, of course, so we ran the ball a lot and ran the option because we had Brandon Doman. The next year we had Brett Engemann. We weren't going to run the option because that's not his specialty.
He added that "last year, we just struggled to find exactly what our niche was and that's why we struggled. I think he (Crowton) is doing a great job this year at finding out who the go-to guys are at receiving; which running backs can do what, which ones can go up the gut, which ones can go around the end and what quarterbacks can do what. He's done a good job at calling plays for personnel and I think that is going to help us a lot."
Being a hard-working student of the game, Christensen said he has gained a lot of respect for Crowton, identifying some differences between Crowton and many other coaches around the country.
"He's not to stubborn to say my system works for everybody, and no matter who the guys are we're going to win," said Christensen. "I've heard (college) coaches say their offense is going to win no matter what and that's not true. We've got a coach who's confident in his system, but at the same time is smart enough to know that you can't do certain things with some guys that you can with others."
The 6-0, 192-pound Christensen said he plans to make the most of his senior season. "I'm enjoying it. It's my last time so I have to make the most of it every day," he said.
"Making the most of it every day" is something Christensen has strived to do without complaint or selfish interest. His steady improvement over the years and success has come from his exceptional work ethic and quiet leadership.
"I think the most important part about being a leader is not always being the best athlete, the best receiver, the best running back, but doing what you're supposed to do – the little things."
Focusing on the little things is what Christensen has done during practices and volunteer summer workouts. "I think it's important to have leaders that work hard. I'm not going to tell you I'm the best athlete because I'm the oldest. It's not true. As the oldest guy, I just feel if I go to every practice and practice every time, the young guys wont have any excuse to miss."
He noted "if you have a senior who is a super athlete and decides he is going to take a couple days off, it doesn't set a good example for the young guys. You also can't be like, ‘hey, I've got no skills, but I'm in charge here.' The most important stuff is just showing by example and doing what you're supposed to do."
Last spring, Christensen was known as "Mr. Dependable" with his solid route running and making tough catches over the middle in traffic. He gained the respect and trust of quarterbacks Matt Berry and John Beck as someone they can count in the clutch.
Growing up the son of an NFL star, Christensen had a head start in learning the basic fundamentals of catching the football from his father, now an ESPN college football broadcaster.
"He (Todd Christensen) had great hands. Ever since I was a little kid, I was doing hand drills with him, so I always wanted to be a receiver," son Toby said. "I didn't want to be a tight end because they block too much and that wasn't my thing. I wanted to be a receiver."
Christensen not only emulated his father's work ethic, but also developed excellent hands for catching footballs. "He did hand drills every single day and I saw his work ethic. You know growing up with him he was hard working and he still works out every day. I don't know if you see him around here, but he's still working out. That's what he wants to do."
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