Alge Crumpler Interview

<i>Inside Carolina</i>'s Andrew Jones talked to Alge Crumpler, the former UNC tight end.

Former North Carolina star tight end and current Atlanta Falcon Alge Crumpler (class of 2001) was recently a guest on my show on ESPN Radio AM630 in Wilmington.

Here is a transcript of the interview with Crumpler, who also attended New Hanover High School in Wilmington.

AJ- Right now I'd like to welcome to the show, former New Hanover & UNC standout and current Atlanta Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler. Alge, welcome to the show.

Crumpler- Hey Andrew, how are you?

AJ- I'm doing great, how about yourself?

Crumpler- I'm doing great.

AJ- Your first name is Algernon. You have a brother named Carlester and a brother named Bryan. How did that happen?

Crumpler- Carlester is actually my father's name, so he was able to get the easy one being the first son. My name was picked out of a book, and there's a funny story because, I'll tell you, for someone to pick ten names out of a book, my mother and father felt that Algernon could be the only name on that list. There couldn't be any Mike, or James or Williams. I thought that was pretty funny.

AJ- So how did Bryan end up with his name?

Crumpler- I guess they got tired of dealing with me and Carlester, so they decided to name him Bryan.

AJ- Last year during your rookie season with the Falcons, you had 23 catches for 335 yards and three TDs. What stood out most from the first day when arrived at camp to the last day of the season, what was the biggest thing you learned?

Crumpler- Definitely patience. It's such a long season and you have to wait through things. At times I felt that I was progressing a little and wanted to do a little more on the field, and coach Dan (Reeves) was allowing me to, slow my way into playing a lot and progressing each week. I was a little anxious to get out there and do a little more, but having that patience really helped me out finishing up the season.

AJ- What area did you develop the most during the season?

Crumpler- Just understanding my route running. I was catching everything that was thrown to me, but it was more tough mentally dealing with reading coverages and understanding that what they are showing you all the time isn't what they're going to give you. You have to trust your instincts and be where the quarterback wants you to be.

AJ- How much more difficult is it to preparing for what a team may do in the NFL as opposed to college?

Crumpler- It's easier at the college level. Certain teams that kept the same coaches, you knew what to expect with Georgia Tech, Clemson, you knew what to expect from Virginia. Every week is such a different expectation (in the NFL) you don't know what to expect. Going into preseason everything is wide open. You do some things good you do some things not so good. And even if you do as well as you thought you did you never did. And when you get into the regular season everything cranks up a notch, and (I) was really just blown away there. And that's where I had to really catch myself when I realized that the preseason means absolutely nothing in the National Football League.

AJ- At what point last year where you comfortable with everything?

Crumpler- Probably close to midseason, with my first touchdown in New Orleans. I picked up the audible with 70,000 fans yelling and screaming, couldn't hear a thing. Next thing you know I was 50 yards out and scored a touchdown. I think I picked it up from there.

AJ- How different were your emotions scoring your first TD in the NFL as opposed to college?

Crumpler- My goodness. My emotions were running rampant. I spiked the ball but it went into the stands. I wanted to get the ball back but we were on the road and the New Orleans fans wouldn't give me my ball back, so I didn't get to keep my first touchdown ball. I ran to the sidelines and I'm flooded with emotion and Dan Reeves said, "Good job, now get ready to go down on kickoff." And I knew from then on that it's not over until the game's over, so I really had to go straight from a high to running down on the kickoff team.

AJ- How is your role going to change this year?

Crumpler- I'm hoping to open up a little more. Be able to stretch the field a little more vertically. I've developed a good relationship with (quarterback) Michael Vick, and we've done a lot of throwing in the offseason. He's been in the classroom really getting this offense down knowing he's going to be the man for us this year for us. We're just trying to bind as much off the field as we can to have a successful season.

AJ- How is it playing with a QB like Vick, who is sort of an unconventional NFL-type QB and is different from someone like Chris Chandler?

Crumpler- He can throw the ball exceptionally well. A lot of people joke about those commercials but I believe if he tried he really could throw that long ball. But he throws an exceptionally hard ball, gets it out like a rocket. And, he also has that phase of his game where if he has to tuck the ball he'll take off and go and a lot of teams don't want to deal with a guy like that.

AJ- Do you think you learned something at UNC with a guy like Ronald Curry, who was a great scrambler as well that will help you in dealing with Vick?

Crumpler- Definitely. I got experience with Ronald Curry and being there for him when he had to scramble. Learning that little nod he'd give when I had to turn up and block, and those things I learned with Ronald in college and it's helping me out with Michael. We're trying to figure those things out. It takes a while but we're getting there.

AJ- How did UNC prepare you for the NFL?

Crumpler- UNC prepared me exceptionally well, especially my first couple of years. Those were the best years of learning because we had the No.1 defense in the country my first couple of years there. And the majority of those guys I played with, Greg Ellis, Brian Simmons, Dre' Bly, Vonnie Holliday, Ebenezer Ekuban, they were all big time first rounders and playing against those guys really helped prepare me for the NFL.

AJ- Did the fact that you were needed so much as a blocker at UNC help you prepare you well for the tight end's role in the NFL?

Crumpler- Definitely. I did a lot of blocking. I would have liked to have caught a lot more balls in college but I that's where I was learning my patience. I was willing to do anything I could to help my team out. A lot of times I couldn't go out on pass routes so my numbers weren't really high but now we've (Falcons) got an exceptional line and we've jelled and bonded. And our schemes are a whole lot different and when blocking guys with quick legs like Julius Peppers. You have to prepare yourself for those bigger and quicker guys in the NFL.

AJ- What are your fondest memories of wearing that Tar Heel uniform?

Crumpler- Getting to the bowl games, and having a great time like at the Gator Bowl. And even the year I sat out hurt when we went to the Las Vegas Bowl. Guys realizing the long seasons and we fought through things and knowing your relationships in college last.

AJ- A lot of the coaches said you were like an assistant coach the year you missed with an injury. Did that help you develop a lot of patience as well?

Crumpler- Yeah. More than anything I developed a better understanding of the game. A lot of times when you are playing you are feeling a lot of things out, but when you're looking at everything from the outside looking in you really get a chance to learn the game. And I think that year really helped me learn the game and helped me have a better adjustment toward the NFL.

AJ- When you think of Kenan Stadium on Saturday afternoons, what comes to mind?

Crumpler- Kenan Stadium. The walk, down from the Bell Tower to Kenan Stadium. The jersey numbers hanging up in the stadium. The baby blue. It's a great stadium to play in. The renovations they've made are gorgeous and they plan on making some more renovations in years to come, and it is really a beautiful place to play football.

AJ- What do you think about the direction of the program under John Bunting?

Crumpler- I think John Bunting brought a new toughness to the team. He brought a lot of ground rules a lot of the guys weren't used to as much. He's really put his foot down. He's the boss man and you really gotta play for him. I think a lot of guys really do want to play for him even though he's a tough coach and sometimes that's what you need.

AJ- Was there a lot of pressure on you playing high school ball in Wilmington because your father (pro in the 1970's) and brother (also a pro)?

Crumpler- No, there wasn't any pressure. A lot of people expected that because my father and brother were so successful. But we'd make our own decisions and whatever our decisions were and he (father) supported us no matter what those decisions were. I really wanted to be a football player and there were times when my father would come out to watch me play and he didn't think I'd make it because I'd get pummeled by a lot of those guys out there. But I was persistent and stuck with it and played my New Hanover days and got a little toughness under Joe Miller, the head coach at the time, and I think that really whipped me into shape.

AJ- For a town this size, there have been an awful lot of stars to come from here, Sonny Jurgensen, Roman Gabriel, Althea Gibson, Meadowlark Lemon, Michael Jordan, Kenny Gattison, Clyde Simmons, Trot Nixon and of course yourself, what is it about Wilmington that so many great athletes have come from here.

Crumpler- It's such a beautiful place to play and I think the community supports everyone so well. I could go back today and al the kids would know who I am and al the guys you just mentioned because the community supports them so well. They've heard so many stories heard so many stories about (those guys) and everybody that's come out of Wilmington that's made names for themselves. And I'd like to come back and do some things for the community.

AJ- What feels better, beating Duke or beating State?

Crumpler- Beating Duke in basketball. Beating State in football.

AJ- Thanks Alge for joining me today. Good luck this season and in the future and maybe we can talk again during the season.

Crumpler- Appreciate it. Looking forward to it.

Andrew Jones is entering his seventh year covering football and basketball for Inside Carolina. He is also in his fourth year as a copy editor and staff writer for the Wilmington Star-News and hosts a drive-time radio show on ESPN Radio, WMFD AM630 in Wilmington. He has also written for ACCNews and once published The College Game and the former Total Sports. He can be reached via e-mail at:

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