News: Spags: Someone to Root For

Discussion in 'News Zone' started by Hostile, May 25, 2004.

  1. Hostile

    Hostile The Duke

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    By MICKEY SPAGNOLA Columnist
    May 25, 2004, 5:55 p.m. (CDT)

    IRVING, Texas - Here, found someone you're going to like.

    Someone you're going to pull for.

    Someone with long odds who is going to make you think of Woody Dantzler.

    Meet Patrick Crayton, the 25-year-old from DeSoto, Texas - a southern suburb of Dallas - the Cowboys selected with their second of three seventh-round draft choices. The hometown guy, if you will. Maybe the next Everson Walls or Michael Downs of this day and age when very few guys fall through the cracks as those guys once did.

    Now it's hard to say what he really is since he's one of those jacks of all trades, except that to me, after watching him in a few rookie mini-camp practices, what he seems most to be is a football player -- and one who had no business at Northwestern Oklahoma State University except for circumstance.

    He can play a little wide receiver for you. He can play a little quarterback. Runs the ball pretty well, but probably not from the tailback position. Can return punts for you. Can returns kickoffs for you. And he says he once played defensive back in high school, too, which means he probably can cover kicks, too.

    Just my opinion, but if Bill Parcells told the not-so-kid anymore to line up his 6-foot, 207-pound frame at linebacker, he'd say, "Weak or strong, coach?" Gotta love that.

    Lovin' this already, aren't you? But hey, this isn't the half of it.

    Of course, Crayton is an underdog to make the Cowboys' final 53-man roster, another quality that probably already has endeared him to folks in these parts, and will endear himself to you, too. Seventh-round picks usually aren't even 50-50 to make a roster. Guys from Northwestern Oklahoma State University would be considered long shots, although, don't tell Lynn Scott that. Same for NAIA athletes. Or anyone else playing in the obscurity an Alva, Okla., provides.

    Plus, Crayton unlikely is to have a true position. He played quarterback his senior year for the Rangers, but that was more out of necessity for the NAIA school than Crayton being a prototype NFL quarterback. He played wide receiver, too, and that's what the Cowboys have him listed as, but to make this team as a wide receiver, the best he could hope to be is the fifth or sixth receiver, if Parcells even keeps six. He's played a little DB in his day, but probably not enough to make it at this level.

    So that leaves special teams player, and you know all about how hard it is for those guys, trying to make a team as a kick-off and punt-return guy. Go ask Dantzler, although, in Crayton's case, he should know Parcells is not opposed to keeping a return guy if he can just do a little something at another position. Those guys have to be extremely special.

    Most of all, though, you'll like his story and his attitude, and the way he'll look you in the eye to tell you without blinking that the chance to play for the Cowboys "is a major opportunity. Just the chance to stay home and play is the opportunity of a lifetime."

    He knows about opportunities. Maybe even second chances.

    Crayton said he didn't have the grades coming out of high school to get into a major college, which after talking to the guy, made you believe he might have been more academically lackadaisical than challenged in high school. So he went off to Tyler (Texas) Junior College for a year and then sat out of year. Not doing much of anything, he gets a call from his former high school coach saying the coach at Northwestern was looking for a defensive back.

    "I jumped on it to get an opportunity to play ball and get my education," said Cryaton, who would go on to play four full years at Northwestern Oklahoma, which explains why he has just turned 25.

    So did you get it? The education?

    "I'm finished," Crayton said with a measure of accomplishment. "Getting my degree in Health Science."

    Seemed more proud of that degree than the 46 career touchdowns he scored, not to mention the 21 more he threw for in just two seasons of playing quarterback for the Rangers. Of those 46 touchdowns, 10 were by punt return, only three short of the NAIA career record. His career punt-return average is 20.8. Two more of those touchdowns were kick-off returns.

    And get what really impresses me: His senior year, not only did he throw 19 touchdown passes, he ran for 13 more, caught four touchdown passes - and I'm assuming he did not throw those to himself, but hell, who knows - and returned two punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns.

    That folks, is having a hand in 40 touchdowns while leading Northwestern Oklahoma to the NAIA Championship game.

    Good stuff, huh?

    But wait, there's still more, and it gets better.

    Early on the second day of mini-camp practice I noticed Crayton limping, favoring his right left. Appeared as if he pulled a hamstring, maybe strained a groin. He didn't come out, though. Just continued to run his routes the best he could during individual drills. Parcells moved the practice into team period, and still there was Crayton, running his routes. And when practice was completed, by golly he stayed out there with the other guys catching punts under Parcells' watchful eye.

    He knew the score. He knows he's a seventh-round pick from an NAIA school without a true position, already placing him on the roster's bubble. He knows he can't be hurt, even if he's hurting.

    "Never been in so much pain on a football field," Crayton admitted.

    This was no simple muscle pull or strain. Oh no, Crayton, that very first practice "heard something . . ." when he was breaking out of his cut. When he finally gave in, asking the trainers what was up, it was discovered he had strained his plantar fascia, a broad band of fibrous tissues running along the bottom surface of the foot, attaching at the bottom heal bone and extending to the forefoot.

    Stretching the tissue causes what's called plantar fasciitis, and you might as well be running with a pocket knife stuck in the bottom of your foot. He says starting to run was no problem. It was the planting and slowing down, occupational necessities of a wide receiver, that we're the killers.

    But he didn't miss a practice. Not even so much as a play during the three-day mini-camp.

    "You got to deal with it . . . got to suck it up," Crayton said.

    The injury did not go unnoticed. Parcells knew what was going on, but gave Crayton no quarter, even going as far to point out "that sprained foot would cost him his job in training camp."

    Crayton already knew that.

    "There, you go, you can't get hurt," Crayton said.

    So you were trying to impress Parcells, even now, with your toughness?

    "If you miss a practice, and you can go, you're letting your team down," Crayton said. "It's not so much letting Coach Parcells down, but letting myself down."

    What'd I tell you? You're already pulling for him, aren't you?

    The good news for Crayton is he didn't tear the plantar fascia. Only a strain, so he figures to be good to go if invited to participate in the team's third mini-camp, June 8-11, and for sure by the time training camp begins the final week in July.

    On top of that, special teams coach Bruce DeHaven took notice of his athletic ability, saying, "I think he's a good enough athlete, he might have a chance" to make the team as a special teams guy.

    So hey, what more do you want? Hometown guy. Small-school athlete. Underdog. Made the most of his second chance. Tough. Versatile. Head screwed on straight. Not to mention obviously talented in a Cowboys' position of great need.

    Yeah, like I said, keep an eye on Patrick Crayton. You're going to like this guy.
  2. Duane

    Duane Well-Known Member

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    Don't care much for Mick's writing style but it's a good story. Hope Crayton is able to come in and get a spot as a special teams player. Unlike Dantzler he can play WR if he needs to. Hell, I wouldn't be opposed to him learning to play Free Safety. Lord knows he couldn't do worse than Scott and Dixon.
  3. BlueStar II

    BlueStar II New Member

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    He certainly sounds like the kind of guy/attitude that I'll be pulling for. I only hope that he doesn't turn out to be another Danzler...where we just couldn't seem to find a spot for him. I surely do like his attitude though!
  4. twa

    twa Active Member

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    Good story even if it was Mick.We tend to overlook what all goes into even making the team.I wish him and all the rookies luck and a injury free year.
  5. stag hunter

    stag hunter Hater

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    whats the knock on mick? i'm new here..
  6. Jimz31

    Jimz31 The Sarcastic One

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    Besides the spelling and the "I'm better than you." attitude?

    During the season, if you cut Mick, he would bleed Hutch. ;)
  7. jterrell

    jterrell Penguinite

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    Im rootin for this kid.
    Sounds like a good enough athlete to be a very good special teamer. He sounds like he can return kicks and cover them.
  8. da_boyz_mk

    da_boyz_mk How 'Bout Dem Cowboys

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    i pull for anyone who wears a star on their helmet. hopefully this kid can be the returner that we need.

  9. ghst187

    ghst187 Well-Known Member

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    well BP wouldn't have gotten rid of Danzler if he wouldn't have fumbled the ball several times on kick returns. Zuriel Smith fell out of favor for the same reason and if Zuriel can't play another position (like WR) at a high level, I think he'll be gone before the season starts.

    Everyone badmouths Mick for pulling for Hutch. I think he's in the same boat with the rest of us realists, those of us that KNOW that QC just isn't going to cut it for the long term. We long for a dropback passer that can read a defense and make consistently accurate throws. So sue us for wanting that.
  10. BulletBob

    BulletBob The Godfather

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    Sometimes I favor my right left. It's usually during those times I realize that I am drunk.

  11. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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    Sounds like a 'Rudy" type of story ripe for Hollywood. There are longshots, then there kids like this. Maybe he will make the practice squad.
  12. Hostile

    Hostile The Duke

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    He's not popular here because he is viewed as anti Q, pro Hutch, and arrogant.

    I don't agree with those assessments. I think he's honest and merely returns attitude when it is directed at him first.

    Everything I've ever heard from anyone who has met him is that he a really decent person.
  13. ddh33

    ddh33 Active Member

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    I'll sure be pulling for Crayton. I actually think he's going to make this team as the last receiver and return man.
  14. NorthDalal

    NorthDalal Member

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    Count me in as a Spag-guy. Despite the regular trashing of the Mickster he is the only regular Cowboy writer to take a pro-active what-do-the-Cowboys have-to-do-to-get-better writing style.

    During the Campo period it became in vogue for many writers and observervers to bash Campo, Mick didn't join in, he gets trashed for it.

    Spags is not afraid to state an opinion based on what he sees in practice and he is almost always on to a story first ahead of Jean Jacque Taylor and Matt Mosely of the Dallas Morning News and waaaay ahead of Dale Hansen and Randy Galloway on the Broadcast side.

    He mentored Nick Eatman who is also good for a new guy.
    He suggewsted just before the draft that the Cowboys were unlikely to move up for a stud RB and are more lkely to move down to the second while picking up a draft choice.

    His reports on the mini-camp were extensive and he picked up on Crayton the first day as he identified Torrin Tucker right off last year as well.

    Without Mickey were wandering in the desert of NoCowboy news right now.
  15. Sarge

    Sarge Red, White and brew... Staff Member

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    ............................. :D
  16. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Staff Member

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    Better than bleeding "Q"...
  17. Lord Sun

    Lord Sun New Member

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    Nice story - that's two IN A ROW for the Mick, if you're counting - but this kid is the longest of long shots. He is competing with a slew of receivers for (perhaps) one of two spots.

    Glenn, Key, AB and Randal are our top four, despite what some think of RW. Z is the incumbent returner and alleged fifth WR. Battling to unseat him, along with Crayton, are Terrance Copper, James Newson, Brandon Middleton and Tom Crowder.

    Crayton certainly will not be kept as a backup or even emergency QB, and it makes no sense keeping him on PS unless u think he'll turn into SOMEthing in the future.

    If he makes it, though, I'll be his biggest fan.
  18. silver

    silver Well-Known Member

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    is that the front office can't do no wrong in his eyes. he always has a positive spin to any situation. if we signed quentin coryatt he'd say that we're lucky since he was a to 5 pick in the entire draft. if we passed on troy vincent or bobby taylor he'd ask if they're so great why are they available anyway. most of us got tired on spagnola when we were in cap hell and he anoited himself as a cap expert. every decision was cap related which is not true. he has a whiny style of writing. if he were a dog he'd be a terrier or a chihuahua. lots of noise and no bite.

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