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Penn State Pro Day: Jack Crawford's Long Journey to Cusp of NFL

by on March 17, 2012 12:50 PM

Jack Crawford spent more than 15 minutes hunched over and scribbling his name on memorabilia following his Pro Day workout Wednesday outside Holuba Hall.

Small, white Penn State football helmets, photo cards, posters. And then his eyes met a stack of magazines. On the cover read “British Invasion,” with a helmet-less Crawford lined up in a three-point stance, his bald head and stern eyes locking in with yours.

Crawford came overseas from London, England and only picked up the sport of football his junior year of high school. The 6-foot-5, 274-pound Crawford, a physical specimen — his numbers from last month’s NFL Scouting Combine prove it — quickly caught the eyes of some of the top college programs in America by the end of his senior season.

Now, four years later, here is Crawford making some NFL scouts salivate over his potential yet again. He said he’s heard his draft projection range anywhere from the third round to free agency.

“You don’t know,” Crawford said. “Coming into this, you have no idea. After free agency, everything changes. You really just have to do what you can and see where the chips fall.”

Crawford’s athleticism is the hook for most NFL teams. His numbers ranked near the top in many categories among all defensive linemen at the Combine.

  • Measurements: 6-feet-5, 274 pounds
  • Arm length: 33 1/2 inches
  • Hands: 10 1/4 inches
  • 40-yard dash: 4.85 seconds
  • Vertical jump: 33 inches
  • Broad jump: 116 inches
  • 3-cone drill: 7.15 seconds
  • 20-yard shuttle: 4.25 seconds

Crawford was satisfied with his numbers in Indianapolis, so he only participated in the defensive line drills Wednesday.

“[Scouts] really talk about what they like about me,” he said. “They know what I have. They know what kind of player I am. I’m trying to give them more and more by meeting with teams. I tell them I’m not gonna quit. I’m gonna keep working, and I’m gonna do what I have to do to be one of the top defensive ends in the league.”

In four years at Penn State, Crawford made 89 tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 11 pass break-ups, 11 pass deflections, forced one fumble and recovered three fumbles.

He’ll continue to work out at Penn State with his position coach, Larry Johnson, and first-year strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald until the draft, which he said he doesn’t even plan on watching because of the nerves.

Can’t blame him. It’s been quite a journey traveling more than 3,500 miles and landing on the brink of employment in this country’s most popular professional sports league.

“Sometimes I look back and it’s wild,” Crawford said. “But you never know where life is gonna take you. Everybody has their own plan. Everybody has a plan set up for them. You never know where things are gonna end up.

“You can never be closed-minded. It’s taught me a lot just as a human being, as a character. It’s been a rollercoaster. I’m just happy. I wanna be all I can be.”

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Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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