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Crum living up to name, Irish expectations

Heather VanHoegarden | Friday, September 16, 2005

Irish linebacker Maurice Crum Jr. is a first-year starter, but the way he plays rarely reflects his youth.

“When I look over to him, it’s just trust that he’s going to make the play,” senior linebacker Corey Mays said. “It’s not that he’s young or anything like that. We really don’t look at him like that. He has to step up.”

And step up he has. Crum has made ten tackles in two games at the new Apache linebacker spot and forced a fumble against Michigan last week. The 6-foot sophomore, despite having played only two games in his college career, doesn’t get flustered easily.

“I went through the first game jitters, playing in the Michigan game, so now it’s time to play,” Crum said. “I know my role. I know my responsibility. I just have to step up and fulfill it.”

Crum is playing alongside two fifth-year seniors – Mays and Brandon Hoyte. Mays said that for Crum, stepping into the spotlight after redshirting as a freshman was not a big deal.

“There’s not much of a transition because he’s so comfortable with it,” Mays said. “He’s not nervous about it. He’s not forgetting his checks or anything. Really it’s rather easy. Some people can come into college football and fit right in and never miss a beat.”

Crum grew up with football. The son of Miami All-American linebacker Maurice Crum Sr. said being raised with football around him has helped him become the player he is today. Crum and his father would watch game tapes of him in high school, analyzing the tape and critiquing his play.

“I’ve been around football for a long time so maybe that’s why I learned so quickly,” Crum said. “We’d watch my high school tape and his college tape and compare the two. So far, I haven’t had as many big plays as him. But I got a couple more years.”

The elder Crum, who played outside linebacker when he led Miami in tackles for three straight years, still watches his son play.

“When he watches the game, he has a pen and paper, so he can grade me,” Crum said. “After the game I call him and he lets me know what I do wrong.”

Even with his dad making sure he does everything right, Crum’s coaches have been pleased with what they’ve seen so far, starting with April’s Blue and Gold game, when he recorded three tackles.

“He’s a redshirt freshman that’s progressed well,” defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Rick Minter said. “He took advantage of opportunities in the spring time, carried it over to the summer workouts and into the fall camp. And [has] really done just a nice job adapting.”

Crum, an all-state selection in high school, knows he still has some things to work on in the rare occasions when his inexperience shows.

“At times, you can see that I’m still young,” he said. “Sometimes [the coaches] point that out to me but they also point out highlights, bright spots.”

And surrounded by Hoyte and Mays, Crum is between two experienced players who look out for him, all while expecting him to step up on the field.

“Everybody’s accepted me,” Crum said. “They all look after me, I will say that. So I know they’re looking after me as kind of the youngin’.

“I take it as a compliment, that they respect me in that way, and I just try to live up to it. I just want to do my job.”

Saturday’s game against Michigan State will be another “first” for the Riverview, Fla., native, as he will run out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium as a starter.

“That’s going to be exciting,” he said. “I’ve kinda dreamed about that, and I’m waiting for that. So that will be an exciting moment.”