BOISE — Tyrone Crawford was well aware last summer that Boise State coaches were considering redshirting him.
The transfer from Bakersfield (Calif.) College had three years of eligibility, with two available to play. Like any good player, he would do what the coaches asked of him. Inside, of course, he wanted to suit up and make an impact.
“I know what the redshirts have to go through, with all the conditioning they do — I would’ve done it, but that’s not really what I had in mind,” Crawford said.
Boise State’s choice not to redshirt Crawford, even if it meant using him as a backup, was fortuitous, as the 6-foot-4, 275-pound defensive end showed massive potential. He had 13.5 tackles for loss, tied for tops on the team, and was second with seven sacks.
Despite not starting a single game, he was named an honorable mention all-American by SI.com for the numbers he posted.
“I’m really excited because he was playing off of instinct and natural ability because he got thrown right into things, and now, he has the opportunity to really get a grasp of things and play faster,” defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said.
Recruited by the Broncos out of Windsor, Ontario, Crawford had taken course work that made him ineligible to play when he graduated in 2008. Not that his grades weren’t good, it’s just that his course work wasn’t on track with someone prepared to attend a four-year college in the United States.
“I’ve wanted to be here since high school,” he said. “They’ve done some special things, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Crawford arrived in Boise last summer, and immediately passed the eye test with his impressive size. Getting acclimated to the Broncos’ playbook, the defensive scheme and the technique to compete at a top 10 school, however, made it less certain he’d play. After a few injuries on the line in fall camp, it made the choice to play him a must.
“It gave us a good glimpse of what he can do — he’s got a ton of upside and a lot of god-given talent,” Kwiatkowski said. “I think if he can continue to learn the position, even if he has just one more season, he can be a great, consistent player for us.”
The Broncos’ spring practices, which began Monday, are Crawford’s first. Unlike last season, when he had about a month from the start of fall camp to the season opener against Virginia Tech, Crawford can relax a bit and process what the Broncos’ system is all about.
“I think I was able to fit in pretty well for having such a short time, but I kind of wish I’d been in for the spring,” he said. “I can touch up the things I didn’t have on point last year. It’ll help me get a better understanding of each play and get myself in the right position.”
With Ryan Winterswyk’s graduation, it leaves a starting position opposite Shea McClellin vacant. Though Crawford seems like a shoo-in, he’s also using the spring to cement a place where he would earn even more time in the fall.
“I’m going in as I always have, working hard each practice,” he said. “I want to get better, make everyone around me better. If I get that opportunity, I want to get the most out of it that I can.”