Penn State's Crawford gets boost of confidence

Penn State defensive end Jack Crawford had one of his best games of the season Saturday in the Nittany Lions' 20-14 win over Ohio State. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

Once thought to be the next premier end to study under defensive line coach Larry Johnson, Penn State’s Jack Crawford has had an up-and-down career. The potential shown during his freshman and sophomore years was somewhat overshadowed by an injury-riddled junior season.

But Crawford, who has started every game this season, was all smiles after Saturday’s 20-14 win over Ohio State, in which he put forth one of his best performances of the season.. The senior beat Ohio State’s highly touted left tackle Mike Adams multiple times and twice sacked the Buckeyes’ athletic freshman quarterback, Braxton Miller. He also had six tackles.

“It gives you a lot of confidence,” said Crawford, who hails from London but played high school football at St. Augustine Prep in Richland, N.J.

“You come into a game like this and leave with two sacks, it lets you finish the weekend in a good mood. It helps you sleep at night. If you have a sack in your hands and you miss it, it’s hard to sleep. There’s nothing else you’re thinking about … To beat Iowa and Ohio State in the same year, that’s special for me.”

Crawford sprained the MCL in his left knee against Illinois on Oct. 29 and now wears a knee brace for precautionary reasons. He said it took some time to get used to against Nebraska last Saturday.

In preparation for Saturday’s game, Crawford spent a lot of time studying film of Adams, the 6-foot-8, 320-pound first-team all-conference selection a year go. Adams is a talented player who plays with a lot of passion, Crawford said.

On Saturday, Crawford, who also had a sack in last year's game at Ohio State, upped his 2011 sack total to 6.5, which ranks third on Penn State. After he had just two sacks in 2010, he hopes to continue on the right track and finish his final season strong.

“He is always so tough on himself,” Johnson said of Crawford. “He really wants to be good. He wants to be great. And when a guy wants to be that, he works hard and he works had on everything he does.”

--Jake Kaplan