Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Off and running

RB Crawford hopes to live up to hype

Kansas University Football players, from left, Rod Harris Jr., Jocques Crawford and Todd Reesing laugh after freelance photographer Julie Daniel asked Crawford to "show his grill" for a photo. Tuesday's Media Day at Memorial Stadium and the Anderson Family Football Complex was the first meet-the-press event for Crawford, a ballyhooed running back. Incidentally, the "grill" comment referred to Crawford's braces.

Kansas University Football players, from left, Rod Harris Jr., Jocques Crawford and Todd Reesing laugh after freelance photographer Julie Daniel asked Crawford to "show his grill" for a photo. Tuesday's Media Day at Memorial Stadium and the Anderson Family Football Complex was the first meet-the-press event for Crawford, a ballyhooed running back. Incidentally, the "grill" comment referred to Crawford's braces.


Anderson complex helps KU beat preseason heat

Preseason workouts are underway for the Kansas football team, and while the Jayhawks are playing in 100 degree heat, they are able to relax afterward in their new practice facility.

Audio clips

2008 KU football media day

Reader poll

Which home KU football game are you most looking forward to?

  • Florida International (Season opener) 5% 64 votes
  • Texas Tech 5% 59 votes
  • Kansas State 25% 280 votes
  • Texas 60% 674 votes
  • Other 3% 39 votes

1116 total votes.

Jocques Crawford's dad, Xavier, played football at the University of Memphis.

His aunt, who ran track at UM, and uncle are die-hard fans of the Blue and Gray.

So Crawford admittedly had some mixed emotions on April 7, 2008, watching on TV in his Cisco (Texas) Junior College dorm room as Kansas University toppled his hometown Tigers, 75-68, in overtime in the 2008 NCAA basketball championship game.

"I was in a win/win situation. Either way, it didn't matter," said KU junior football running back Crawford, the reigning junior-college offensive player of the year who attended Cordova High in Memphis.

"I didn't know how the fans would react if Memphis would have won. How would I be treated here?" Crawford added. "After I signed with Kansas, a lot of people back home said, 'Hey, take those Kansas flags off your truck,' or they'd get mad seeing my Kansas stickers on my truck. They get kind of upset at that."

Crawford's aunt kept in communication with him during the title game.

"She was texting me the score. I said, 'I'm watching the game, too,''' Crawford said with a smile, speaking Tuesday at Kansas football Media Day in the Anderson Family Football Complex at Kivisto Field.

Crawford is happy to report he has been treated quite well since arriving at KU this summer.

"I've not met a rude person yet, actually," Crawford said.

Handy with a computer, Crawford says he has read KU fans' comments on various Internet sites. He senses fans expect a lot from a guy who gained a junior-college-best 1,935 yards off 283 carries with 19 touchdowns at Cisco last season.

He rushed for 328 yards and three TDs against Trinity Valley and finished his soph season with five games of 200-plus yards.

"I feel I have a lot to prove, especially with the expectations that have been set for me that I read on the Internet, things I hear when I see fans in public," Crawford said. "I will just try to live up to the expectations."

KU coach Mark Mangino believes Crawford, who will battle Jake Sharp and Angus Quigley for playing time, has a bright future in the KU backfield.

"Right now, he is a little rusty. His mechanics, footwork need a lot of work, but you can tell that he's got the ability to accelerate in the hole. He's a strong guy, a powerful guy, has good vision," Mangino said of the durable 6-foot-1, 230-pounder.

"He's making that transition from the tempo of junior-college football to Big 12 football. He's far from a finished product, but he's coming along. He's shown some signs of being a real talented guy."

Just a few days into training camp, Mangino isn't ready to name a starter at running back.

"Well, Sharp is a returning guy, and he's rushed for over 800 yards, so he has the edge in experience on him," Mangino said. "Jake knows the system. Jake's a hard-charger. Let me put it this way, he gives you everything he has, even on the practice field. He works so hard that at the end of practice, he's just fatigued. He's shot. Jocques is kind of learning. He's getting constant coaching out there.

"He's asking a lot of questions. He has not run with the ones (first team) at any time yet. He hasn't earned that right yet, but he is competing for the job, and it's good. Competition makes you better."

Quigley, who is Crawford's roommate, says it will take some time for Crawford to get used to the pace of Div. I football.

"When he first got here, conditioning-wise I'm not sure if he'd ever run like we run. I don't know if he'd lifted like we lifted. But he's picked it up," Quigley said.

Crawford gave a simple answer when asked if he'd be the starting running back.

"Time will tell. Time will tell," he said, quickly adding that KU's depth should be a plus this year.

"We have a lot of guys capable of doing a lot of things. You can't just have one running back, because what if he goes down? You need somebody else to back him up," Crawford said. We have a lot of depth. We'll try to get the best reps we can, do what we can when our number is called."

Crawford's number is 3 - the same as NFL players Aqib Talib and Charles Gordon. Is the NFL in Crawford's future?

"I pray to God. Only God knows," he said, continuing an interview in which he best could be described as humble.

"My dad told me to pattern myself after (the late) Walter Payton," added Crawford, who indicated his favorite active NFL backs are Clinton Portis (Washington) and Willis McGahee (Baltimore). "Who wouldn't want to be like Walter Payton?"

Payton was known for his cool, calm demeanor.

"I mean, even on the highlight film you won't see me celebrating," Crawford said. "I may celebrate with my teammates. I try to stay humble with that. I feel if I celebrate I may never score another touchdown."

Crawford hopes to score plenty of those at KU while earning a degree, likely in a business-related field. He already has come a long way academically after failing to qualify for a Texas Tech scholarship his senior year at Cordova High.

He also was in some trouble in high school, pleading guilty in September 2005 to a charge of misdemeanor simple assault. He spent several weeks in Juvenile Court custody before being released.

As Mangino said after signing Crawford, the player since the incident "has conducted himself in an exemplary manner."

"To be honest, I felt like my life was over," Crawford said of not qualifying at Tech. "I didn't know any guys who came out of juco. I said that to my dad and coaches and they explained to me what NFL players came out of junior college and went to Div. I. Isaac Bruce (49ers) went to junior college. He's one of my dad's best friends. I see people like that who went to junior college and are successful. That drives me and gives me a goal to set for myself."

Of his legal problems, he said simply: "I put it behind me. I stay focused. I came here to get my schooling and play football."

The only thing making his life miserable right now is his aching feet while running through two-a-days.

"Oh my gosh : if you could take a picture of my feet," he exclaimed. "It's pretty hot. That new turf (at practice fields outside Memorial Stadium) is very hot. Guys are getting blisters on their feet. You've still got to keep pushing it every day. You know it's hot, but other teams are practicing in weather just as hot as ours. Everybody is working hard. This team's focus is football. Once school starts it will be school, then football and then whatever comes after that."


Andy Hess 9 years, 10 months ago

check your photo section of Media Day, LJW. You've got a photo of Onyegbule tagged as Justin Springer. just thought I'd help.

IowaJayhawker 9 years, 10 months ago

For those of you who live out of state, whats the best way to watch the games? I know ESPN Full Court is great for basketball, does ESPN GamePlan cover most of the KU Football games? I know the Big XII handles football TV contracts different, so just wanted to see what all of your thoughts are.Also, I would like to say, even though I live in Austin, TX right now and would love to see us play at UT so I could go, I can not wait to get them at home and silence all of these Texas fans that think they are God's gift to the game of football. Rock Chalk

bmcmich1 9 years, 10 months ago

I personally love it when FSN does our games -- everywhere I have lived outside of the Larry/KC area I have had no trouble getting the KU games that are on FSN. Their BigXII broadcasts are, in my experiences, shown throughout the country, trumping whatever regional stuff they would have done in that time slot.Up in chicago, the FSN games are usually shown on Comcast Sports Net Chicago (CSNC).When I lived in South Florida, I could catch the FSN games on FSN Florida -- the Big XII games trumped whatever regional programming was on there.But that's just been my experiences, txrockchalk is that true in Tay-has? Anyone out on the West Coast, have you had the same experience w/FSN? I'm just curious...

9 years, 10 months ago

bmcmich1 - Yes, that is typically the case with FSN Southwest and FSN Houston. However, I have the Sports Pack on DirecTV, so I receive all of the FSN channels. One thing I don't get with it though is the Fox College Sports Central channel.

DSommersby 9 years, 10 months ago

Jocques and other players:Try not to spend a lot of time reading the internet and message boards. You guys will have more than enough on your plates with school, football, and college life in general. You can always go back and read stuff after the season or when there is more time but keep your balance and eyes on your school work and play-book as that stuff is more important and relevant. Take care of that stuff and rest assured you will like what people are writing. Focus on the main things and the rest will take care of itself. Good Luck!

9 years, 10 months ago

No problem, IowaJayhawker! Don't let those tu Tea Sips in Austin get to you :o)

mikemcfann 9 years, 10 months ago

I live in Orange Ca and I really like the FSN broadcasts. I have Time warner and pay for the extended sports package which incliudes most of the Big 12 games. I need to do the ATT internet broadcast of the noncon and some big 12 games which is the Jayhawk broadcast.I am dissapointed at the OC turnout at the sports bar in Huntington Beach that shows the games I will make the drive if I can get away from the Family to watch a non broadcast game though.

Ervin O'Neal 9 years, 10 months ago

"Jocques Crawford's dad, Xavier, played football at the University of Memphis.His aunt, who ran track at UM, and uncle are die-hard fans of the Blue and Gold."Gary, I'm confused on the Blue and Gold reference. Are you saying his aunt and uncle went to Michigan? I've never heard of Memphis being referred to as the Blue and Gold.

sevenyearhawk 9 years, 10 months ago

AWESOME!!!The countdown continues, folks ...

KGphoto 9 years, 10 months ago

Love the "grill" shot Thad.Mangino's really got some chemistry working. These guys are like brothers.

kansas22 9 years, 10 months ago

I have a feeling I'm going to fall in love with yet another #3 this year. Jocques, what DSommersby said. Don't worry about what fans are saying right now. Just work hard and play the way you know you can and Lawrence will treat you like a god.

9 years, 10 months ago

IowaJayhawker - unless this year is different from past seasons, ESPN GamePlan doesn't cover that many Big 12 games that aren't readily available on regular cable or satellite TV - - especially if you live in the Big 12 market. You shouldn't have any trouble catching the ABC regional games if KU is selected for those. The FSN Big 12 games shouldn't be a problem either.I don't know how long you have lived in the Austin area, but the chapter there is led by Brad Korell. He is a great guy. Here is a link with some site watching and contact info: this helps.

JHWKNMIZRY 9 years, 10 months ago

Walter Payton had one of the best work ethics in the history of the NFL . Anyone with some talent and THAT work ethic will succeed far beyond talent alone.

Jeff Worthington 9 years, 10 months ago

Also for people asking about KU games on TV. Last year they had one game (Baylor) that was on Fox College Sports Central. I know Time Warner has this channel, but i don't think Direct TV has it. Usually all of their conference games will be on either ABC, ESPN, or FSN. If not check out Fox College Sports. And this has happened a couple times in past seasons...they will have the game available on pay per view. I think the Colorado game a couple years ago cost like $30.I'm pretty sure the Florida International, and Sam Houston State games will not get picked up by anyone. Correct me if I'm wrong though.

KGphoto 9 years, 10 months ago

Looks like Marcus Henry will be catching passes from "The Favre". I can see him being the next Greg Jennings.A look at the competition:Jerricho Crotch, nuff said.Liver Anus Coal, eeyeuuuw.D. Ball,B.S.,Chansi,Wallace,and a guy named Clowney.Marcus is a "Can't Miss".H... E... N.R.Y.. Jets! Jets! Jets!

Jeff Worthington 9 years, 10 months ago

By the way, hey LJW can we get an updated depth chart sometime? I don't anticipate Anthony Webb or Todd Haselhorst being on the depth chart for some strange reason this year.

5DecadeHawk 9 years, 10 months ago

Hey Jocques,If you are reading this message... don't start a bad habit. You'd be better off getting your books for your upcoming classes and reading ahead. You'll want to start the school year strong and get AHEAD in your classes early. The moment you fall behind, it snowballs. It only gets harder as the year goes along.Then bust your butt and leave it all on the field. When you get home, you should be too tired to be fiddling around on the internet.Listen to your teachers and coaches. They know better than nimrod fans posting comments.That includes me.:)

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