Crouch Steps Up

Freshman right guard Curtis Crouch probably didn't expect he would be playing so early in his college career, but he admits that the experience has been fun and will benefit in the long run.

"It's been exciting on the field," Curtis Crouch told Pack Pride. "I've seen myself getting better each day. Coaches are saying I'm improving every day of the week.

"I'm surprised I got to play that much in Florida. I didn't know I was going to get that many snaps. My attitude was that the coaches were giving me an opportunity to show what I can do."

Crouch, who played sparingly in the Wolfpack's first seven games of the season, played right guard for 60 snaps against Florida State. After starting right guard Dwayne Herndon left the game with a stinger following Andre Brown's 65-yard touchdown run, Crouch played the remainder of the game and helped an offensive line unit that opened holes for an offense that tallied 196 yards rushing.

Recording five knockdowns in 60 plays, Crouch played well in his first major test, and it came against one of the nation's top defenses. What did he think of the road game at Florida State?

"The atmosphere [was] wonderful," Crouch said. "The coliseum was huge... people were stomping. That is the type of intensity you see on TV. That was the spot I wanted to be in. I feel real good being where I am right now."

Crouch enrolled at NC State with lofty expectations placed on him. A four-star recruit and a consensus top-15 offensive lineman nationally, the Fayetteville, North Carolina product believed that once he reached his potential he had the chance to be a very good college player.

I've known since high school [about] my potential," Crouch said. "I knew I could go far if I strived to do it. Now I'm taking it to the next level and trying to make the most of my ability."

Crouch admits that he continues to make mistakes, mostly in reaching defenders on screen plays or a missed assignment.

However, the experience he is gaining now is valuable for his future, and the future of NC State's offensive line. Next year the Wolfpack is likely to return three starters in Leroy Harris, James Newby, and Derek Morris and sophomore Kalani Heppe was starting at left guard prior to a shoulder injury that sidelined him indefinitely. With Crouch emerging as a potential starter at right guard, NC State could be looking at having an experienced, and talented, offensive line in 2006.

"[Playing now] is going to help tremendously," Crouch said. "I think next year we may have a good offensive line, and the fact that I'm getting a lot of playing time now will help me down the road. I [want] to help lead this line to a good winning streak."

With talented, young playmakers such as Andre Brown, Marcus Stone, Anthony Hill, Curtis Crouch, and Lamart Barrett all poised to return next year, NC State's offense has a chance to be a bright spot.

"We have to keep working hard and looking at a lot of film," Crouch said. "We just need to do the right things on and off the field."

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