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Freshman tackles job starting on OSU D-line

Crichton bursts on scene, has promise of big Beaver career
by: crichton

CORVALLIS - Last season, Oregon State coaches debated whether to bring true freshman Scott Crichton out of his redshirt year. Ultimately, they decided to preserve his year of eligibility.

'He could have played last year,' OSU defensive coordinator Mark Banker says. 'Now I'm glad he didn't. I look forward to having him continue to grow through the next four years.'

Crichton has burst onto the scene this season in spectacular fashion. The 6-3, 260-pound redshirt freshman, a starter all season, leads the Pac-12 with seven tackles-for-loss, including three sacks.

'I guess I'm off to a good start,' said Crichton, who will try to apply plenty of pressure on Arizona quarterback Nick Foles Saturday when the Beavers face the Wildcats at Reser Stadium. 'But I know I have a long way to go.'

Crichton has gained 45 pounds and plenty of muscle since his senior year as a 215-pound defensive end/tight end at Foss High in Tacoma.

'Scottie has grown up fast physically,' OSU coach Mike Riley said. 'He is recognizable facially, but the rest of his body ... he has just worked hard to get to where he's at.'

Crichton gained the attention of OSU coaches during visits with his prep teammates to the Beavers' team camps before his junior and senior seasons at Foss.

'We first saw him in our seven-on-seven passing league, catching balls as a tight end,' Riley says. 'He was really athletic. We earmarked him as a defensive end in our program, and we were right.'

That was fine with Crichton.

'I always wanted to get recruited for defense,' he says. 'I just figured I'd fit better on that side of the ball in college.'

Crichton narrowed his choices to Oregon State and Washington State, then picked the Beavers a few days before the letter-of-intent signing day.

'Oregon offered me right after I committed here, but I stuck with my commitment,' he said. 'I just loved everything about (Oregon State) - the environment, the atmosphere. I came to a basketball game on my visit, and it was pretty nice. The coaches and the players, too ... I'm really glad I made this decision. It's all family here.'

Crichton had to scramble to get into position for a chance to play college ball. At Foss, he missed the first five weeks of the season in his freshman, sophomore and junior years due to academic difficulties.

'At Foss, if you didn't do so well in school the previous year, you had to skip the first five weeks,' he said. 'My senior year was the only time I got to play the full season.'

As a junior, Crichton often stayed after school to work on academics. He attended summer school. As a senior, he took eight classes his first semester and 10 classes the second semester - six being the norm.

'I really wasn't concentrating on school until my junior year, when I started getting looked at by colleges,' he said. 'I knew I had to catch up so I could graduate and get a scholarship. I wanted to make my family proud.'

Crichton graduated on time and qualified for enrollment at Oregon State. Last year, he said he worked hard on his grades.

'I'm at about a 2.5 (grade-point average),' he says. 'But I know I can do better.'

Crichton has been a quick study on the field for the Beavers, in part because he takes the mental side of the game seriously.

'He pays attention,' Riley says. 'He wants to get better.'

'I'm a student of the game,' Crichton says. 'I'm still learning. I feel like I'm getting the plays down. I need to do this unconsciously, so I'll be able to just make plays out there.'

Crichton watches plenty of video through what is called the 'Huddles' program, an on-line service available to all OSU players.

'I'm on it all the time,' he says. 'I watch our practices. I like to watch myself, to see what I did wrong, what I can do better. I watch the opponents, the tackles and tight ends. I like to look for tendencies and weaknesses.'

Crichton says it was hard to redshirt last season.

'But I'm glad the coaches made that decision,' he says. 'It would have been fun to play last year, but I needed to redshirt so I could improve mentally and physically. I have four years left, and I'm going to make those some good years.'

Banker says Crichton is starting so early in his career 'because he has good instincts. He plays physical, and with a lot of passion.'

Already, Banker says, 'Scottie is taking a leadership role from the standpoint of leading by example. It'll be good to see that role increase as he gains experience.'

Oregon State sent a number of defensive ends to the pros through the 2000s, including Bill Swancutt, LaDairis Jackson, DeLawrence Grant, Dorian Smith, Victor Butler and Slade Norris.

'I know the history,' Crichton says. 'Coach Joe (Seumalo, the D-line coach) talks about them all the time. They were great players. I would like to fit into that category one day.'

'He'll be one of our really good players at that position,' Riley predicts. 'He has all the tools - athletic ability and quickness, and he'll get stronger as he goes.'

Oregon State applied a lot of heat on 6-8, 240-pound QB Brock Osweiler in the Beavers' 35-20 loss at Arizona State last Saturday. Next up - Arizona's 6-5, 240-pound Foles.

'He is a big guy, but Osweiler was big, too,' Crichton says. 'We put some pressure on him. We'll try to do the same thing with Foles.'

Crichton intends to come away Saturday with a victory.

'We've had enough of the losing,' he says. 'We need to start winning some games. We're going to start now.'