DALLAS --- Penn State defensive end Jack Crawford will conclude his four-year collegiate career in Monday's TicketCity Bowl, and he already has some plans for the future.
Crawford, a London native who now lives in Longport, N.J., said Wednesday that he will train with former Philadephia Eagles left tackle Tra Thomas at 7 Deuce Sports, which is Thomas' gym in Medford, N.J. Crawford said he met Thomas, a three-time NFL Pro Bowler who played for the Eagles from 1998-2008, through friends and players he knows in the NFL.
In fact, Crawford said he worked out with Thomas some during the holiday break before traveling to Dallas to prepare with the Nittany Lions for Monday's TicketCity Bowl against Houston.
"It’s just nice to get an offensive tackle’s perspective, a three-time pro bowler, to get his views on things I can adjust and things I could do better," Crawford said. "It’s a big help.”
Crawford, a 6-foot-5, 237-pound graduate of St. Augustine's Prep, said Thomas will help him prepare for the Jan. 28 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Defensive tackle Devon Still, cornerback D'Anton Lynn and guard Johnnie Troutman were Penn State's other Senior Bowl invitees, Crawford said.
“It’s a great honor," said Crawford, who said he got his invitation a few weeks ago. "Just gotta try to make the most of it. I guess after the Houston game, I’m definitely going to focus on it.”
In addition to working with Thomas, Crawford said he will also get to train a bit with current Eagles defensive ends Trent Cole and Jason Babin, as Crawford said they will also be working out at Thomas' gym.
Cole is a two-time Pro-Bowl selection (2007, 09) and Babin was just recently named to his second Pro Bowl in as many seasons. Babin is tied for second in the NFL with 18 sacks, just 0.5 behind Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings.
“I spoke to (Babin) back during the bye week," Crawford said. "He gave me insight to what he’s been through. He came out in the first round and didn’t do much when he came out. And now he’s a pro bowler. He gave me his trip he’s had in and around the league, and it’s interesting getting that perspective.”
After leading Penn State with 6.5 sacks during his senior season, Crawford hopes to start his own professional journey very soon. But first, he will have his work cut out for him with Case Keenum and Houston's high-powered offense.