Catawba Football: All-America tackle Terence Crosby is rock on Indian O-line
By Mike London
Catawba tackle Terence Crosby has blossomed into the offensive captain and an All-American, but his first football game in Rowan County wasn’t much fun.
Crosby played for the Glenn High Bobcats, and they traveled to Mount Ulla to take on West Rowan in the first round of the 3AA state playoffs on Nov. 13, 2004.
Long story short: West 36, Glenn 7. West quarterback Bryan Aycoth and defensive lineman Alex Hiatt enjoyed the games of their lives.
Crosby’s highlight was scooping a fumble by a teammate and racing past startled Falcons.
“Our quarterback got hit, the ball popped up to me, and I started running and jumped over a guy,” Crosby said with a chuckle. “I remember one of those West coaches screaming, ‘Get that big guy!’ I gained 7 yards on that fumble.”
Catawba coaches have resisted the temptation to employ Crosby as a 6-foot-3, 295-pound tailback. They were smart enough to install him at left tackle after a brief fling at tight end.
He’s now in his fourth year as a starter and is the centerpiece of a big, experienced offensive line.
Crosby played his high school ball for Dickie Cline, a master of offensive-line technique, and blocked for standout backs Antonio Livingston and Matt Cline. Crosby got noticed. He was an East-West All-Star.
“Coach Cline took me under his wing and really helped me with my pass-blocking,” Crosby said. “I was lucky.”
Crosby’s size and talent attracted interest from schools as far up the recruiting food chain as North Carolina and Duke, but he didn’t have the grades. He admits he didn’t take school seriously until he was a junior fighting to make up for lost time.
“I kinda dug a hole academically,” Crosby said. “But there were a lot of D-II schools interested. Coach Cline said Catawba had a good coaching staff and was the place for me to go. I believed in my coach’s judgment, and I’m glad I did.”
Most Indians redshirt as freshmen, which means they practice, hit the weights and adjust academically and socially without exhausting a precious year of eligibility. The theory is they’re going to be a lot more of a factor on the field when they’re 22 than when they’re 18.
Crosby didn’t have the luxury of a redshirt. He was part of the depth chart from the start, and with half of Catawba’s linemen maimed or mangled late in the 2006 season, Crosby was handed a starting assignment at left tackle in Week 8 at Wingate.
Battered center Will Reedy informed Crosby he’d be lining up across from Wingate All-American Kenwin Cummings, who is now a member of the New York Jets. Crosby shrugged and figured, “How bad can it be?”
Pretty bad, as it turned out.
“Man, I got worked by Cummings,” Crosby recalls.
That Wingate game on Oct. 28, 2006, remains a red-letter day in Catawba football history. Catawba trailed 24-0 and lost 24-8 to drop to 4-4. It was arguably rock bottom for Chip Hester’s coaching era.
“Every young player takes his lumps,” Hester said. “The important thing is to learn and get better, and that’s what our guys did.”
Catawba discovered two O-line mainstays that awful afternoon ó Crosby and Hunter Carnes.
Since that woeful weekend at Wingate, Catawba has won 20 of 26, the O-line has progressed from damaged to dominant under assistant Ben Hepler’s direction and the Indians have climbed back up the hill. They’re again a factor in the SAC, and they could make noise beyond the league in 2009.
Crosby has a good memory and is big on payback.
There was Saturday’s 25-7 payback against St. Augustine’s. There was also the payback he exacted against Cummings when Catawba put up 454 yards of offense in smashing Wingate 45-20 in 2007. Crosby was first team All-SAC that season.
As a junior in 2008, Crosby repeated as an all-league selection and also made three All-America teams.
Pound for pound, inch for inch, play for play, he’s as good a football player as Catawba has. He’s marvelously athletic and as flexible as a figure skater. He is blessed with unusually long arms that enable him to play like he’s 6-6.
“Terence has great toughness and great feet,” Hester said. “He can deal with the guys with size and he can deal with the guys with speed. He’d be a great guard or a great center, but we need him at left tackle.”
The left tackle is generally the marquee offensive lineman, the protector of the blind side of a right-handed quarterback such as Catawba’s Cam Sexton.
Crosby understands why he gets more accolades than his linemates, but he’s humble about it and credits Hepler for a lot of his success.
“I’m only as good as the other four guys are playing,” he said. “All our offensive linemen are good. We’re all vets, and they’re shouldn’t be a lot of mistakes this year.”
He was surprised to be named a captain because others are more vocal, but he’s proud of the responsibility and the trust his teammates placed in him. He’s taken young O-lineman Dacarius Kanyinda under his wing, just as Catawba veteran Daniel Yow once took Crosby under his. He also prods and pushes his teammates now at practice as well as himself.
“With the defensive linemen we have, we’re getting great reps in our one-on-one period whether we’re working against a first-team guy or a second-team guy,” Crosby said. “We have talent, probably as much as most teams we’ll line up against. The only things that can beat us are penalties, mistakes or a lack of effort.”
Crosby said the team “hit the ground running” with its opening-game victory, and he’s already a Sexton fan.
“That guy can pass and he’s kinda fast,” Crosby said. “He might can scramble and save me some sacks.”
Crosby won’t give up many of those, not that he’s obsessed with the stat sheet.
“When you get to be a senior, you don’t worry about how many yards and how many tackles and how many awards,” he said. “You only worry about wins. What people will remember about you is how many did you win and how far did you go.”