Crump en route to NFL?


sports editor

Thursday night’s NFL draft was all about quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. 

However, during the completion of the draft Saturday, Western Illinois may have one of its own players selected.

Recently graduated wide receiver Terriun Crump has entered the NFL draft and hopes that his name will be called during the seventh round or that he lands on a team as an undrafted free agent. 

Efforts to reach Crump were unsuccessful, but Leathernecks head football coach Mark Hendrickson said just how much Crump meant to the program.

“Terriun meant a lot to us,” Hendrickson said. “He was here for three years. He did an outstanding job all three years for us. The highlight for me was that he graduated last December with his degree (LEJA major). It means a lot to Terriun, and it means a lot to all of us.”

Last season, Crump was a first team Missouri Valley Football Conference selection, catching 61 passes for 944 yards and scoring 6 touchdowns. In his Leatherneck career, Crump snagged 135 receptions for 2,067 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 59.1 yards per game.

When asked what characteristic would make Crump stand out to an NFL scout, he said it was his ability to catch a jump ball.

“He’s a big receiver,” Hendrickson said. “When the ball is in the air and two people go up for it, there’s a very good chance he’s going to come down with it. That’s certainly going to be one of his big pluses in the eyes of the NFL people.”

Crump has been training in preparation for the draft since the season ended, and Hendrickson mentioned that he has improved tremendously since his first day at Western.

“Since Crump graduated, he’s been training for an opportunity at the NFL,” Hendrickson said. “When he first came here, he definitely had a long way to go. He received good coaching here. Gunnard Twyner, our receivers coach, did a great job with him. His first year (sophomore) here, he played a little. His junior year, he was the ‘other’ receiver next to Lito Senatus. But that helped him a lot. He got to watch Lito practice and play well, and that helped Terriun. His three years here, he made a lot of strides and earned his college degree and became a very good receiver.”

Crump is a big target and has NFL size at 6-foot-3 and 220-pounds, but according to Hendrickson, luck plays a huge factor into getting drafted.

“Terriun has the talent, but boy, there’s that phrase that you have to be at the right place at the right time,” Hendrickson said. “And when you’re trying to make one of only 32 NFL teams, that saying is really magnified. If Terriun could get hooked up with the right organization that needs a receiver like him, which is a big and strong receiver, he’ll certainly have a great opportunity to make a team.

“Sometimes you end up on a pro club that doesn’t need somebody exactly like you are and you end up not making that club. Then it’s hard to come to another club and make a different team. There are a lot of intangibles, and it’s very unpredictable. Terriun certainly has an opportunity to do it, based on how much he improved here, based on his skills, based on the effort that’s he’s put into this, but he’s still not a guarantee.”

While scouts have been looking at Crump all season, Hendrickson said that they rarely share information outside of the organization during the recruiting process.

“The scouting process goes the same with every school every year at all Division I schools,” Hendrickson said. “There’s two or three scouts that stop by here each week during the season. They watch our previous game tapes during the day, they come out and watch about the first 15 or 20 minutes of practice to physically see the players that they are looking at, and then they take off.

“The other part of it, in the NFL those organizations are very paranoid. Which makes sense, because they’re trying to win games and there’s a lot of money on the line. They don’t share information; they don’t share with each other, and they don’t really share with us; they don’t give us feedback. They give the players, such as Terriun, very minimal feedback, and a lot of teams give them no feedback at all.”

Hendrickson added that one of the best examples he could give of the unpredictability of the draft is former Leatherneck punter Mike Scifres. Scifres, who now plays for the San Diego Chargers and is the highest paid punter in the NFL, was drafted in the 2003 draft in the fifth round, getting selected 149th overall.

 “Mike, you could argue, was the best punter in the nation his senior year,” Hendrickson said. “Out of those 32 teams, Mike probably had 16 of the special teams coaches from those clubs actually visit here and work him out on the practice field. That’s very unusual. Yet, the San Diego Chargers never came to Macomb, never called Mike up. Several of the pro teams called him up several times, and 16 worked him out first hand, and one team that he had never heard from, the Chargers, drafted him on draft day.”

If an NFL squad does not pick up Crump, Hendrickson believes he will attempt to play football for as long as he can, whether it is for the Arena Football League or Canadian Football League.  

“Terriun loves football,” Hendrickson said. “I see him pursuing football as long as he can. Keep in mind that if it didn’t work out for some reason this year, there’s a very good chance that it will work out for him. If it doesn’t work out, he will have the opportunity to play at another professional level, and then maybe a year from now give the NFL another shot.”