Jack Crawford, DE (6-foot-5, 262 pounds)
Said to be "physically impressive" with an "imposing build," Crawford has made significant strides with his technique since last season. The sophomore has been an early favorite among PSU fans after seeing action in 12 games during the 2008 season.
But that was exclusive in a reserve role, so many fans are still curious as to who this "British beast," as one observer called him, really is and what kind of impact can he had with the departure of Josh Gaines, Aaron Maybin and Maurice Evans at defensive end.
With these departures, defensive line coach Larry Johnson has been focused on "reloading the core line and the rotation," according to an observer. Since the spring session, Crawford has been penciled in as a starting defensive end and has impressed in that role through the summer and into preseason drills.
In fact this off-season, Maybin predicted Crawford would develop into an All-American before he wrapped up his PSU career.
Approach: In previous reports we have discussed Crawford's quiet, "heads down" approach. However, some observers say he has emerged from his shell a bit this summer. "He's not a loud locker-room guy, but he definitely seems to be getting more comfortable," according to one observer. "Remember, he wasn't just adjusting to a new school or state, but a new country. I think he was just trying to take it all in early on and now has a better feel for everything." On the field, though, Crawford is said to be an aggressive player who is "all business."
Technique: In terms of improvement, his footwork is "coming along" and he's "getting better dropping the shoulder to rip to make the corner" more consistently. This preseason he remains focused on effectively using his hands to shed blocks and picking the right angle to get to the passer. "It's not just about speed alone," an observer said.
Strength: Stronger from the winter, spring and summer work, Crawford has "really invested himself" in the weight program. He's more comfortable extending out of his stance and "it seems like he's starting to understand how to couple his strength and technique to gain leverage off the snap."
Improvement: With good progress this summer, the main area Crawford is working on is "trusting his technique." As one observer explained, "Physically, he basically has the strength and speed, and he's getting the position down. He just needs to pull it all together so he can pressure on every snap."
Impact: As an expected starter at end, Crawford's progress and physical presence make him a major impact candidate for the Nittany Lions.
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