Elbert Craig proving himself in Big 12

If you have watched an Oklahoma State game, you know he is indespensible. If you are an opposing player, you wish differently.

Who knew Elbert Craig's defensive skills were so sharp?

Anyone who has ever seen the kid play a game, that's who.

Craig's phenomenal effort on the defensive side of the ball has propelled his Cowboys to a new level. He is a leader. He is tough.

If you were to glance at Craig from a distance, you may be intimidated. At only 6-foot-one, Craig stands tall. His physique is demanding. You definitely wouldn't want to volunteer facing off against him on the turf.

If he rolls up his sleeve, a hint of a tattoo can be seen. Roaming the sidelines while the Oklahoma State offense does its thing, Craig looks on - fierce, mean and unshaken.

The tattoo, however, isn't of a skull and crossbones. It isn't a picture reminiscent of an Ozzy Osbourne concert tee and it doesn't scream "intimidation."

Right on the bicep of OSU's toughest, is a picture of Jesus.

"I try to be a leader in every way," said Craig. "I want to lead my team to domination, but I want to lead them to Christ, too."

According to Craig, he takes on a different persona when he steps on to a football field.

"Everyone does it," he said. "You can't go out there and be yourself. You have to hit people, you have to do everything you can to help your team win."

Craig, who had 2 interceptions in OSU's win over Northern Iowa Saturday, is one of the valuable assets the Cowboys count on in order to make big plays down the stretch.

"Elbert is progressing very well," said coach Les Miles. "He has potential to tear some things up in this conference."

Seems as though others are noticing, too.

"I think offenses are aware of Elbert's tenacity," Miles said. "They tend to curb passing when he is lingering in the distance."

OSU's 2002 schedule has received nods from several publications across the country. If the Big 12 Conference teams aren't enough to tend to, the Cowboys will find themselves preparing for one of the most storied college football programs in history on Saturday.

Craig said he welcomes playing teams like UCLA, even though some fear it was a big gamble to commit to such a good non-conference Division-I opponent.

"If want to be considered the best you have to play against best, so I like our schedule," he said.

Craig's tenacity is paying off thus far, and with the 2 INT's and several near picks against NIU, the aggressive nature of a soft-hearted player shines through for all to see.

"I hope to go on to the next level," Craig said. "But I am also grounded enough to know that isn't the most important thing in life. I just give all the glory to the man above."



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