Catawba Football: Crosby a force on OL
Catawba junior Terence Crosby made his debut as a starting offensive tackle by sticking his head into a lion’s cage.
It was the eighth game of the 2006 season. Catawba had already lost three SAC contests to train-wreck just about every team goal, and offensive linemen were walking around taped like mummies .
A road game at revenge-minded Wingate was next, and desperate times called for desperate measures.
Catawba decided to take a look at Crosby, the backup tight end, as a starting tackle.
True freshmen on the offensive line are rarer than ugly NFL cheerleaders. Next to quarterback, it’s the most cerebral position, with constant adjustments.
Catawba center Will Reedy cheerfully reminded Crosby all week how tough his debut was going to be because Crosby would usually be lined up across from Kenwin Cummings, Wingate’s superb defensive end.
“Will kept telling me, ‘Kenwin’s All-SAC, Kenwin’s all-region, Kenwin’s an All-American,’ ” Crosby said with a smile. “In my mind, I was thinking Kenwin was probably gonna murder me. I hadn’t watched a lot film on him, and I sort of went into that game at Wingate blind-folded.
“And he was stout, even better than I thought he’d be. Man, I got worked.”
Cummings, a cousin of former Indian Darryl Locklear, abused a lot of offensive linemen in his day. The New York Jets signed him as a free agent after the NFL draft last April and he’s now on the practice squad as a 248-pound linebacker.
But that bleak day at Wingate two years agoó a 24-8 Catawba loss ó was also the last time anyone “worked” Crosby.
Wingate ventured to Catawba’s Shuford Stadium last fall, and Crosby was almost too psyched to speak.
“I really thought Terence did OK in that first game with Cummings considering he was a freshman who had been a tight end,” Catawba offensive line coach Ben Hepler said. “But we did hit him hard for a week last year reminding him about Cummings, and then he went out and just did a great job against him.”
Catawba jumped out early and won 45-20. George Bell rushed for 103 yards. Kory Fisher had 88 on the ground. Brad Roach threw for 251.
Those nice numbers meant the offensive line did its job. Cummings didn’t create havoc.
“I don’t remember any single play from that game or much of anything that happened, Crosby said. “I do know that I did better against Kenwin and I do remember we won. That was the important thing.”
Pound for pound and inch or inch, Crosby may be Catawba’s best football player. He was a first-team All-SAC performer as a sophomore and is certain to repeat this year if he stays healthy.
‘He’s a real power for us at left tackle,” Catawba coach Chip Hester said. “Savvy, sharp, tough and strong. We know we can count on him every week and the sky is the limit for him.”
Hester believes Crosby can be as good an offensive lineman as Catawba’s ever produced, and there have been great ones. In the past decade alone, Brian Hinson, Don Moore, Cole Beane and Daniel Lynch were named to All-America teams.
Crosby was Honorable Mention All-America last season, and is now the cornerstone of an offensive line that is banged up after three games. Starting guard Kemp McSween (knee), starting center Zane Gibson (hip) and reserves Cody Corn (thumb) and Daylon McAlexander (concussion) are all hurting, but the holes have been there for the running game the last two weeks and the quarterbacks have had time to locate receivers.
What makes Crosby, 6-foot-3, 295 pounds, special?
“First off, he’s really athletic and that puts him in good positions,” Hepler said. “No, he’s not that tall, but he has the wingspan of a 6-5 player. He also has great flexibility and that gives him the leverage to get under defensive linemen.
“The next thing with him is his intelligence. He’s a guy you show how to do things once and he does it. He asks the right questions. He’ll ask what he should do if this should happen or if his guy does this.”
Crosby is so mobile Catawba can scheme for him not only to attack linebackers but also to steamroll safeties. Nothing can be more frightening for a 190-pound DB than to see Crosby coming rapidly in his direction.
Catawba lands players of Crosby’s caliber from time to time, but it almost always takes special circumstances.
Crosby was a standout player at Glenn High in Kernersville, made All-State teams and played on successful squads. His junior year ended with a 36-7 playoff loss to West Rowan, but he earned All-Northwest honors during a 12-2 senior season.
“Terence’s high school coach, Dickie Cline, was a great O-line coach,” Hester said. “That helped him.”
Crosby had an early offer from Duke, among others. North Carolina recruited him with more than casual interest, and UNC was his dream school if everything had fallen into place.
“I had a lot of visits and some offers, but I didn’t take school seriously enough until my junior year,” Crosby said.
The ACC’s loss was Catawba’s gain. Crosby isn’t that 6-5 tower the pros are usually looking for, but he’s a fantastic football player who’s career could continue past Catawba.
He may even encounter Cummings again down the road. If he does, it’s a safe bet Crosby won’t get worked.