Hard Work Paying Off for Crisp

Sophomore lineman Rob Crisp is getting more time on the field as his improved habits in practice and in the weight room begin to pay off.

Rob Crisp has always been big. In high school, that trait alone helped him dominate his opponents, making him one of the most coveted offensive line recruits in the country during his junior and senior seasons.

After arriving in Raleigh for fall camp in August of 2010, it seemed Crisp was on the fast track to becoming a starter right away for the Wolfpack. When senior tackle Jake Vermiglio missed the first game of the 2010 season due to a suspension, Crisp stepped in, starting his first college game and helping NC State beat Western Carolina 48-7.

Since then, however, Crisp has struggled to see consistent playing time along an offensive line that has featured many of the same faces for the last two years. Following his start against Western Carolina, the sophomore from Raleigh's Athens Drive High School only saw spot duty for the remainder of 2010.

Crisp admitted that his high school weight training habits didn't have him fully prepared for the college game when he arrived on campus last year. He said it took time to realize exactly what kind of work he would need to put in to be successful.

"It's very hard, it's definitely a lot harder than I thought," he said. "My whole senior year I didn't lift a weight, I didn't pick up a weight. My junior year I probably worked out half of the season. I was a 300-pounder in high school; I could easily move guys around."

And while he hasn't started a game in 2011, Crisp, who said he's completely committed himself to NC State's strength and conditioning program, isn't worried. He's just working. Crisp said he's been putting in extra sessions with strength and conditioning coach Todd Rice.

"I've been in the weight room a lot more," Crisp said Thursday. "Since I've been here coach emphasizes a lot on being more physical and getting stronger so I've been in doing extra stuff with Coach Rice and the whole strength and conditioning program has helped me practice better and playing better in games."

Head coach Tom O'Brien said recently that it's Crisp's practice habits that the coaching staff has noticed in 2011. Those changes have earned Crisp more playing time.

"He has been practicing a lot better," O'Brien said before the Central Michigan game. "Until about three weeks ago he wasn't, in our opinion, doing the things to earn playing time so the more that he's practiced better and is better, he's earned more time to be on the field."

Crisp played 20 snaps against Cincinnati and saw action in a season-high 24 plays against Georgia Tech, helping NC State rush for 195 yards. Crisp said the work in the weight room has him playing the best football of his life.

"I'm playing better than I ever have before," he said. "I'm more aggressive in my run blocking and my pass blocking has gotten a lot better working with Coach Bridge."

O'Brien said it will be tough to keep Crisp off the field if he continues to practice like he has in his second season.

"He will continue to get time if he continues to practice the way he has been and playing in games the way he's playing," he said.

Crisp, who said he's finally settled into his role for the Wolfpack, wouldn't have it any other way.

"I've been competing and working my butt off," he said. "Being in the weight room was definitely a big thing I had to focus on. It's a new transition for me and I hope to continue it."

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