The Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta 2013 product has spent the last few years hyped as the top defensive back on the west coast and even in the country. Now enrolled early at USC for spring practices with lofty expectations placed on his shoulders, he is living up to every mention of his top-billing -- and then some.
"One of the offensive coaches said he looks like a senior in college out there," USC head coach Lane Kiffin said during just the second week of spring workouts. "He is so natural. He made interceptions both off the deep post and blitzing off the edge."
He's a very special player," Kiffin continued. "There's a reason he was [high school] national defensive player of the year."
The 6-foot-3 220-pound freshman is taking first-team repetitions at nickleback and second-team reps at strong safety this spring for the Trojans.
"My [high school] coach had me playing every position on defense and offense" Cravens explained after practice. "But it's different when the guys you are going against are running 4.2s and we are running a two-minute offense."
However, as Kiffin already said, the usual freshman transition to the college game hasn't seemed to faze Cravens. "I think really it's his preparation," Kiffin explained. "I think he's one of those unique guys."
Cravens says the praise he's heard from his new head coach "means a lot," but that his focus remains on the advice his dad continues to tell him, "You're not as good as they say … and you're not as bad as they say."
My dad has been prepping me for college since I was in 5th grade," Cravens continued. "So I'm used to the struggle and working out every morning. That's what really helped me."
Cravens recorded an interception during Saturday's practice, grabbing a tipped pass during 7on7 action.