Crum Determined to Go Out on a Good Note

A starting linebacker on BCS bowl teams in 2005 and 2005, Maurice Crum, Jr. knows success. That made 2007 that much harder to take, and he's determined to make 2008 a lot better. "I don't want to leave with that sour taste," he said after practice on Monday. "That's one of the reasons I came back."

Crum's personal accomplishments speak for themselves, 84 tackles last year and a season's worth of highlights in the victory over UCLA, so he isn't worried about his own approach to the game. He's looking for a different team attitude, and so far so good this spring.

"Before, some guys weren't certain of their abilities," he said after practice on Monday. "Once you get over that hump it's, ‘I know I can do this. Let's get better. Let's play faster.' You've got guys behind you that are trying to play. There's competition. Guys are having fun again."

Crum remembers what it was like to be a young guy finding his way, and remembering helps him be a better leader. "From the first day it's just trying to fit in, trying to figure out what kind of guy I am, just to put a staple there for myself," he said. "I had a chance to sit back and watch guys play before me and learn from them. I could see what I could take from this guy or that guy and add to my game. If it fits, I could take it and run with it.

"One day I realized that Corey Mays and Brandon Hoyte wouldn't be there. I had to step into their role because I was the experienced guy at linebacker."

As a fifth year man, this is Crum's second time around as a team leader. "I think it's a little bit more proactive simply because I'm the returning captain. I've been around and everybody knows it. Guys look up to me. I feel that I can be a guy a lot of guys can relate to because I'm easy to talk to. When they're trying to find themselves or they're in the in-between stage they kind of need somebody to lean on someone. Regardless of what side of the ball the guys play on, they can lean on me."

Defensive coordinator Corwin Brown said, "Leadership is not about being around for four years and, all of a sudden, just because you've been here you're a leader. Being a leader is doing the right thing, doing the things that sometimes the other guys don't want to do.

"You have to be able to, without opening your mouth, go out and show the guys that you're dependable, that you're going to be there, that you're going to make plays, and that you're going to do it the right way. That's what leadership is all about. Maurice has been around the block a couple of times. He knows what we want."

Crum has indeed been around the block. He started as an outside linebacker but, despite being undersized, he moved inside because of need.

"The first year I played inside I was 220," he said. "I had pretty good guys in front of me – Derek (Landri), Trevor (Laws), and Victor (Abiamiri), so I didn't have to be that big. Then I got into the weight room and got stronger and got bigger, just started growing into my body. Right now I'm 230. I just let my body naturally progress and where it ends up is where it ends up. I feel I can play regardless of my weight. Playing through my heart is enough."

Crum is also working with his third position coach in three years, but he has chosen to see the positive side of the changes. "With each new coach you have to break old habits and create new habits, but I consider myself very versatile. I don't feel like it's a big adjustment for me to change certain parts of my game. Each coach has helped me add another dimension to my game."

Crum sees a different team attitude this spring. "I don't think we're doing things that much different than before. It's just the competition. Guys are so hyped up that they remember it like there's something different."

If Crum has anything to say about it, Notre Dame fans will remember this fall's version of the Fighting Irish like there was something different, too.


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