Camp Amato: Slimmer Crouch Now a Leader

RALEIGH, N.C. -- It isn't hard to notice the weight Curtis Crouch has dropped since last season.

The sophomore offensive lineman has lost 40 pounds over the past year, trimming his body fat and improving his muscle mass, and now checks in at a solid 6-foot-6 and 326 pounds.

"I'm feeling good," Curtis Crouch told Pack Pride. "When I came here this time last year, I reported in at 367. It's been a year now, I've dropped about 40 pounds, and I'm feeling good right now. They've got me out here working."

Crouch lost the weight the safest way possible, through daily conditioning and a diet constructed for his body by a nutritionist.

"I had to cut down on my eating habits," he said. "We had a nutritionist here, and [for] just a couple of months I did what was told. [I] don't eat any white bread, [slowed] down my carbohydrates... pretty much the eating helped me a lot with conditioning everyday.

"If I ate wrong and conditioned I would just lose what I ate, so it was pretty much my diet that helped me."

Unleashing a big smile when asked if the temptation is there to ever cheat on his diet, Crouch stated he can't get away with it under new offensive line coach Pat Meyer. Meyer, who was a three-time ALL-WAC performer at Colorado State and the Wolfpack's former strength and conditioning coach, has been instrumental in Crouch's physical development.

"My position coach, he used to be 315 pounds so I really can't get away with too much," said Crouch. "He really doesn't get on me [too much]... he knows my standards of eating. He just wants to see that scale and if it's at the weight he likes then it doesn't matter."

A slimmer Curtis Crouch could present huge problems for opposing defensive lines as he really started to come on late last season. After learning the ropes early in 2005 as a true freshman, Crouch played 60 snaps in the Wolfpack's win at Florida State and started the season finale against Maryland. He tallied five knockdown blocks in the win against FSU, and was tabbed the offense's 'King of the Boards' following 2006 spring drills.

What was the key to his late-season emergence? Facing stiff competition on a daily basis did the trick for Crouch.

"The most talented defensive line in America," said Crouch. "That was pretty much worse than the weather, going up against them all practice. Playing on the second team, I basically played against [John] McCargo every play. It was a tough challenge for me."

McCargo, selected by the Buffalo Bills with the No. 26 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, was one of the league's top defensive tackles and Crouch gained confidence by squaring off against him everyday.

"I feel pretty confident in our offensive line ."

"Man, as you can see he went first round, and I think he could have went top ten," Crouch said of McCargo. "He's just so good. He showed me a lot. He showed me moves that, now that I'm catching on against younger defensive tackles, it's just second-nature for me to stop.

"Him, and (FSU defensive tackle) Brodrick Bunkley that went first round, I played against him, they all showed me different ways of handling myself on the field."

Just a true sophomore, the right guard speaks with a confidence that he didn't have last season. He truly believes NC State's offense will step up in 2006, and the offensive line could be the difference.

"I think we're going to have a good, solid line if we stay healthy," said Crouch. "Even our second team is kind of filled with young guys, but they are showing confidence and enthusiasm. We're young, we're strong, and I feel pretty confident in our offensive line and running game coming in real strong this year."

Crouch was the first of NC State's heralded 2005 offensive line class to earn playing time. One of four freshmen offensive line signees in the Wolfpack's 2005 class, the three others redshirted, but Crouch expects his teammates to emerge as key contributors down the road for the Wolfpack.

"Jeraill McCuller is one of my best friends up here," he said. "He's a great player. He could have played just as much as I did last year, but we had enough depth in there and they redshirted him. He's a real great player.

"Julian Williams, because of the knee injuries you really couldn't tell what he could do. He pretty much had to have his knee reconstructed, but he's looking very strong at left tackle. If he was fully recovered, there is no telling, there could have been a lot more freshemen out there.

"Andy Barbee, he's coming along. Leroy Harris is helping him out when we are in meetings. He's a real smart guy, like a 4.0 GPA. He's a real smart, intelligent guy, and he learns plays like that. He's very aggressive... the guy's good."

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