Q&A with DE Jack Crawford

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DE Jack Crawford. Photo courtesy of Penn State

Q: Were the Raiders a team that you were aware was looking at you or did you have any idea?

Crawford: Yeah, Raiders are one of the teams that I was close to from the beginning, even since the Combine. It was good to see them come through and give me an opportunity like this.

Q: Did they have you out here for a visit at the facility?

Crawford: No.

Q: Have you taken a moment to think how unlikely this path has been for you, not having played football for all that long and how far you've come?

Crawford: Yeah, it's crazy. It's a little emotional right now. Everybody's crying in there, because it's so unlikely. I told myself coming into this situation that I wasn't going to be upset if I didn't get drafted because I've come so far already. The fact that this happened is one of the best things of my life.

Q: I read that you worked out a lot with Trey Thomas in preparation for people looking at you for the draft. Can you talk a little bit about that experience and how much it helped you?

Crawford: He's just so insightful. He's got so much experience coming from the other perspective, from the offensive tackles perspective and it helped me so much. He told me things that I didn't know, just the small things that you don't recognize in the game. He really kind of helped me mentally, because that's the biggest part. If you have the tools physically it's one thing, but football is almost like a mental game, so he helped me a lot.

Q: How soon before you reach out to Stef [Stefen] Wisniewski about what it's like here with the Raiders?

Crawford: I was just living with Stef Wisniewski for the off-season training when I was up at Penn State. I stayed with him and I was asking him about the Raiders, asking him how it is, just things like that. He had nothing but good things to say, so now that I can be his teammate again. It's a good feeling.

Q: In your four years in college you had a dip in production your junior year. What happened there?

Crawford: Junior year I got hurt. I sprained a ligament in my right foot. It was hard because, instead of having the surgery immediately, I decided to let it heal a little bit and then try to come back in the year. That junior year I never gave myself time to heal up so I could never really perform to my full potential.

Q: When did you make the transition in your mind from basketball player to football player?

Crawford: I think it was the first year I played. It was just playing in the football game, stepping on that field was almost like it enlightened me. It was a feeling that I never had before. I played physical games; I played rugby growing up in England, but stepping on the football field is just a lot more excitement. When I started to get a better feeling for the game, I kind of just became more and more intrigued by it.

Q: Did you watch football at all growing up?

Crawford: A little bit, not so much. I used to watch a little bit when I was interested, but I couldn't really follow it like you can in America.

Q: Do you feel that, because you haven't played that long, you have a lot of room to grow? You could become a lot better than you are right now?

Crawford: That's one thing about me, I always think I have room to improve, and that's in every area of life. That's just my mindset. I can always be better and that's kind of what has got me to where I am now -- that mindset you can always improve is the mindset you need if you want to progress.

Q: How did you discover football? What was the reason you got on the field the first time?

Crawford: Just watching the games in high school, I was watching the high school play. It looked fun. I like to hit. I like the contact. I like the physical part of it. So to me that was what brought me over to the sport. I wanted to experience that.

Q: So how does a guy go from never stepping on a football field to two years later getting recruited by Penn State?

Crawford: It's crazy. My high school coach told me, when I stepped on the field, he tried to tell me a little bit about the positions I'd be playing, defensive end and wide receiver. He just told me, on defense, he just told me, 'go get the ball,' and that's what I did for him. Every play I lined up and I took off and tried to get to the running back as much as possible. One thing I think that helped me was my work ethic. I used to always do the extra part just to try and get better.

Q: What did the Raiders' coaches say to you when they got you on the phone?

Crawford: They said congratulations. They said, 'We expect you to keep showing us the motor that you showed on the tape and keep working harder now you're here because it's about football now. Celebrate with your family for tonight and get ready for mini-camp when it starts because this is about football.'

Q: Through this process what was the one thing you were trying to show scouts and coaches? What were you trying to prove?

Crawford: I think the biggest thing that I was trying to show them, I think physically I'm just as able as any other defensive end in the draft. I think that whatever they need me to do, whatever they want me to do, I'm not going to stop working until I get to that point where they're satisfied and I'm satisfied with my performance. I really want to bring a lot to the table, and I think that, I'm happy I got drafted, but for me this is the beginning. This is where I have to improve myself so I can help the Raiders and hopefully help us win the Super Bowl.

Q: You said you were getting prepared for the event that you might not get drafted. Can you discuss what this process has been like for you?

Crawford: It's crazy. It's weird because I don't know what the coaches think. I don't know how people rank different players and stuff, and I don't know what different coaches want. Sometimes different teams have different rankings and you just never know. A lot of the mock drafts, I don't like to look at them, but a lot of them had me going undrafted or sixth round, seventh round. I just hoped for the best the whole time, prayed, hoped that everything went well. When I finally got the call, waiting on it was hard watching the draft, I didn't really want to watch it, but my whole family was here so I had to watch it. When I got that phone call, it was a relief knowing that I was going to get the opportunity to showcase what I have.

Q: Where are you at right now?

Crawford: I'm at my family's place in New Jersey, my host family, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Q: What were the circumstances of your move to America? Did the whole family move together?

Crawford: No. Well, my family, my real family, still lives back in London. I keep in contact with them closely. Ever since I've lived in America I've lived with a host family, a big Italian family. They treat me like their family. They treat me like real family out there, so I feel lucky. I feel blessed just to be with them. They support me and treat me like their son.

Q: What's the name of that family?

Crawford: Dandrea family.

Q: You grew up in London. Arsenal supporter?

Crawford: Yeah, yeah.

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