Jack Crawford, DE (6-foot-5, 262 pounds)
Said to be "flat-out physically impressive," Crawford has made serious progress this spring in the eyes of many practice observers. The sophomore has drawn a strong interest from the Nittany Nation as well, having seen reps in all 12 games last season.
With the defensive end positions taking a hit with the departure of Josh Gaines, Aaron Maybin, Maurice Evans, and Jerome Hayes missing contact this spring as he recovers from a knee injury, position coach Larry Johnson has had to reload his depth on the edges. Crawford has been penciled in as a starter and has not disappointed, according to observers.
Crawford also received another vote of confidence recently when Maybin predicted he would end up an All-American before his Penn State career was over.
Approach: Referred to as "a silent storm," by one observer, Crawford "generally keeps to himself," but is described as "driven" and "aggressive." This aggression has been something he has been focused on channeling with his play. "His technique improved last season, and, coupled with his aggression, he could really become a force off the corner," an observer explained.
Strength: Crawford has built up his leg strength to supplement the impressive power he has shown with his upper-body. "Jack has the ability to knock back an assignment off the snap," an observer said. "He's got the power but has to consistently rely on technique instead of just his power."
Technique: "His footwork is coming along and he's much more comfortable with his rip technique to break the edge," an observer explained. He's working on how to improve the use of his hands and "has been focused on picking the right angle and getting leverage off the line."
Improvement: Aside from hands and reliance on his technique off the snap, Crawford is working on his overall "comfort and confidence." As one observer said, "He's got the skills. He just needs to trust them and believe in himself. That improved last season, but he's got just to trust his abilities."
Impact: With a myriad of talent departing the defensive end positions, Crawford is penciled in as a starter and getting a lot of attention from Johnson as "a central point of his rotation." Crawford has made significant strides and the belief is he has the ability to make a major impact this season, an impact the defensive line is relying on. He's getting pressure from Kevion Latham and Eric Latimore, but should prove to be a vital component to the end positions.
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