Before everyone pencils in Brock Berlin as the Hurricanes’ starting quarterback this season, they might want to consult Derrick Crudup, who sees himself as the odds-on-favorite to take the snaps this year.
Crudup continued to stay neck-and-neck with Berlin in Saturday’s Cane Fest Spring Game, going 7 for 8 with 100 yards and a touchdown pass. The junior looked impressive in the first drive of the game, completing all four of his passes, including a touchdown.
While Berlin seems like the logical choice to most fans, Crudup feels that he has shown coach Larry Coker qualities in his game that can’t be ignored.
“I think I made a real strong case for myself today,” Crudup said after the Spring Game. “I know that it’s up to the coaches to make the decision, but I feel really good about my chances.”
Growing up in Deerfield Beach, Florida, Crudup starred at Deerfield Beach High School and was considered a top prospect amongst local quarterbacks, rated fifth out of all the athletes in the region by the Southeast Prep Star. As a senior Crudup threw for 1,800 yards and 26 touchdowns, catching the eyes of UM scouts.
While at UM, Crudup has always been the odd-man-out. As legendary ‘Canes quarterback Ken Dorsey’s backup, Crudup usually only played in big blowouts, with career numbers of 25 for 48, 326 yards and three touchdowns.
In the biggest game of the season last year, however, Crudup was thrown into the fire in the second overtime after Dorsey got injured. Facing a third down with 11 yards to go, Crudup calmly completed an eight-yard pass to Quadtrine Hill, setting up a Dorsey completion to Kellen Winslow to keep the ‘Canes season alive for a few more plays.
It has been little things like replacing Dorsey for a play in the Fiesta Bowl that have highlighted Crudup’s first two years as a Hurricane. Now Crudup is tired of waiting for a chance to shine, realizing that he is going to have to do it for himself.
“I need to make a statement during the spring, knowing that I am not the favorite to most people,” Crudup said. “So far I feel that I have given myself a great chance to be the starter.”
One thing that Crudup has over Berlin is that he has played in the Orange Bowl for two years, gaining valuable experience and learning from Dorsey. He indicated after the spring game that he feels very comfortable in the large stadium.
“I felt at ease playing in the Orange Bowl today,” Crudup said. “I know I can play well at this stadium.”
As far as Crudup’s relationship with Berlin goes, the two get along just as well as they do with the other teammates. There is a mutual respect between the two competitors.
“Any time you compete with a teammate for a job it makes you respect the other person a lot more,” Berlin said. “We’re both teammates and we’re in it to win no matter who’s the starter.”
Crudup has taken the role of the forgotten man this spring, desperate to show his critics that he has not gotten the respect he deserved when everyone immediately penciled in Berlin as the starter at the end of last season.
“I feel like I have accomplished a lot this spring and so has Brock,” Crudup said. “All I can do now is keep getting better and making the decision even harder for the coaches.”
-Eric Kalis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org