Eric Crouch vs. Oklahoma

Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch (left) outruns the Oklahoma defense -- including defensive back Brandon Everage (7, right) -- on his way to the end zone for a 63-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter against the Sooners on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2001, in Memorial Stadium.

Eric Crouch opens up about some interesting times in his life in this St. Louis Post-Dispatch story.

Jim Thomas, football writer for the newspaper, recently compiled a list of the worst 50 draft picks in Rams history. Lawrence Phillips was No. 1 on the list, and Crouch was fourth.

A Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, the 5-11 ¾, 195-pound Crouch was drafted in 2002 in the third round (95th overall) as a receiver. But, as the story points out, the plan never got off the ground, in part because of injuries and in part because Crouch’s passion was playing QB.

Those weren't the only reasons the plan failed, but they were among the top few.

Just two days before the Rams were to open the season, a frustrated Crouch announced that he no longer intended to play football.

“I was 23, engaged to be married and trying to adjust to a new city, a new team, a new level of football and a new position,” Crouch, now 34, told the Post-Dispatch. “And then there were the injuries that kept me from performing at the level I was used to. Everything seemed to be stacked against me.

“Looking back now, I should’ve used my rookie year as a learning experience. I was in an ideal situation for a young receiver, working with Mike Martz alongside guys like Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Ricky Proehl. But I was never passionate about being a receiver.”

My take: If he wasn’t passionate about the receiver position, I doubt he could’ve made it work for long – not in that league, where freakish athletes are everywhere. Many of those athletes happen to be very intelligent and intense about their line of work.

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Crouch qualifies as a freakish athlete with high intelligence, and a leather-tough player at that. His toughness, calm amid pressure and kindness -- he is one of the most friendly and patient star athletes I've ever dealt with -- were what I remember most. He earned every bit of that Heisman.

He raises an interesting point.

“I guess I was born too early,” he kidded. “With all the talk about the read-option these days, I’d be the perfect fit for a lot of NFL teams.”

I wonder if Taylor Martinez is thinking the same thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if that's the case. Like Crouch, Martinez’s passion is playing quarterback. I’d be very surprised if Martinez willingly offered to play another position in the NFL, assuming he gets the chance to play in the league – which I’m guessing will be the case.

Perhaps Martinez should heed the advice Crouch's agent offered him in 2002: “I remember him telling me to get my foot in the door (by playing receiver) and to see how things went from there,’’ Crouch said.

Makes a lot of sense.

What say you?


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