Singing His Way on Up

The contestants that endure the scrutiny and harsh criticism of Simon Cowell of American Idol would not last two minutes under the conditions the gridiron warriors of BYU's football team faces day in and day out. But what would happen if the roles were reversed and a tough rugged football player had to get on stage and face the judges?

Ben Criddle gained respect as a walk-on member of the football team by working his way on up the depth chart with a mix of hard-hitting and aggressive play. Today he scrimmaged with the first team defense, and, like yesterday, he almost had two interception. Although they will not help him on the football field, Criddle also has other talents that are gaining notoriety among his fellow teammates.

"I'm still a walk-on," laughed Criddle. "The thing about starting is, well, me and Troy Sheidy wrote a song about being a scout team player, and we've performed it I think about four times now. We did it once at the football banquet and another time during the Y awards and at a fireside and for [Provo Daily Herald writer] Darnell Dickson.

"We also performed it once for a fund raiser I think is called The Home Owners Association for BYU that raised all that money. It soon became a big hit, so me and Shiedy were talking about how if we don't get scholarships this year we're going to start the Crid & Shied walk-on fund and maybe sell the CD. I don't know if the NCAA would let us do that. Anyhow that's what we were thinking of doing, we'll see. We would have to check to see if we could and do all the paperwork for it."

If the song is good enough, the two pair may want to showcase their singing talents for a musical reality TV show rather than making tackles or scoring touchdowns on the football field.

"You never know what can happen," joked Criddle. "You get your name out there and just see what happens. We're having fun with it and we're just seeing what happens, and we've been talking about doing that CD."

Criddle may not have a singing career in his near future, but one thing is for sure: even though he is just a walk-on at BYU there is a very good chance he could see the field this season.

"It doesn't surprise me that I'm out there playing with the ones," Criddle said. "I came here and I told Bronco Mendenhall that I was going to play and that I'm going to start and that I'm going to be a contributor. I haven't thought any differently since the first day I got here."

One thing that is heard among the defensive backs is how much healthier the unit is as a whole. The good health has allowed for greater competitive play. Criddle was one of the DBs who was hampered by an injury, but is now 100%.

"During spring I was injured," Criddle said. "Even during the off-season I had a chronic groin injury, so during the summer I worked more on my core muscles. I've been doing a lot of research on speed training and I've worked on my glutes, my hamstrings especially and my lower back, and I've gotten a lot faster and a lot quicker. I've been able to break on balls and make plays a lot better and with that I've gotten a lot more confident in what I'm doing out there on the field. I can sit longer and get a read longer and then come up and make a play. That's kind of what my off-season has been about. In regards to reviewing our defense I'm a lot more solid in that too."

Along with improved health and the infusion of talent, Criddle feels that the secondary will be able to perform at a higher level for longer periods of time.

"The more depth we have the better we're going to be," said Criddle. "What kind of happens is you get to see what others are doing right and wrong, which allows you to make changes as well. Then the coaches correct those mistakes some guys are making, and then on top of that we have more speed and athleticism coming in and it's great. It gives you more confidence as a whole which allows you to play at a higher level and it also pushes you because you know the guys behind you are stepping it up as well."

Redshirt freshman cornerback Brandon Howard, who played with the first team defense on the day, echoed Criddle's words.

"I like to watch how some of these guys do things and imitate their form," said Howard. "Even when I ran track, I used to watch Michael Johnson and try and imitate his form. In watching guys who had good form on the team last year, I just watched and learned from them to see what works. To be the best you want to imitate the best. Not necessary copying them but, hey, they're doing things right and you want to do things right too."

As one of the underclassmen pushing the veteran players on the team to excel, Howard feels that one key to success is consistency.

"You have to be consistent," Howard said. "One bad play is a big play on the field, and the more you can play at a higher level within a consistent manner the more success you have over a longer period of time. You also have to have confidence in what you're doing in order to be able to make some plays. When a ball is coming to your side, you have to make plays. Sometimes you can have a quiet game and still have a great game. It just means you locked that guy down. Those are some of the things I think it takes to be a good corner. I'm gaining confidence everyday and felt I had a good day today with the first team defense."

In speaking of having a good day, Criddle also played with the first and second team defenses. He broke on the ball several times as the receiver ran an out pattern. Criddle was in position but just missed making the interceptions.

"I played alright today," Criddle said. "I should have had two picks today and should have made two picks yesterday. I'm able to knock down balls but I just gotta get those and take them to the house, and that's all BYU fans expect so that's what I'm here to do."


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