Maurice Crum, A Profile in Leadership

(UHND.com) – Much has been made this spring about who will assume leadership roles for Notre Dame this fall.  Just Monday Charlie Weis even went so far as to say that he won’t name captains or his leadership committee until sometime this summer.  This wasn’t a problem for Notre Dame the last two seasons when the Irish had the luxury of two time captain Maurice Crum – a player who exemplified leadership on and off the field.

Crum, a four year starting linebacker for Notre Dame from 2005-2008, spent the past two seasons as a captain becoming just the 17th player in Notre Dame football history to be a two time captain of the Fighting Irish.  Being in select company amongst the greats who have played for the Irish is not lost on the level headed Crum.  “It meant a lot from that stand point and in addition to the fact that my teammates voted me in that position. It’s something that I’ll always hold dear to my heart,” Crum recently told UHND.com

Crum’s tenure as a captain for the Irish came during a two year stretch in which the Irish had a combined record of just 10-16, but despite the lack of success over the past two seasons, Crum would do it all again.  “Without a doubt,” Crum answered when asked if he’d commit to Notre Dame again if he could go back five years ago and go through recruiting all over again.  “ I love Notre Dame and I’ll take my good days and bad days there.”

Despite the lows over the past two seasons, there were plenty of highs for Crum during his time at Notre Dame as well.  Crum told us the highest point in his career was the 2007 UCLA game, and who could blame him for picking that as the high point of his Irish career?  Crum turned in a stat line that most linebackers would hope to collect in an entire season against UCLA in Notre Dame’s first win of the 2007 season.  Against the Bruins, he forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles, intercepted two passes, scored a touchdown on a fumble return, collected seven tackles, and recorded a sack.   His efforts that weekend earned him Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Unfortunately, the low point in his Irish career would come a few weeks later.  “My lowest (point) was losing to Navy in a triple overtime game,” Crum told us.  The loss snapped Notre Dame’s 43 game winning streak over the Midshipmen, and is viewed as the lowest point of Notre Dame’s disastrous 3-9 campaign in 2007.

4398576_byu_v_notre_dameCrum’s contributions to Notre Dame throughout his career were never just limited to the girdiron though.  This past season, on top of being voted the Team MVP by his teammates at the annual football banquet, Crum also shared the The Pietrosante Award with special teams standout Mike Anello.  The official Notre Dame athletic website describes the award as the following, “The Pietrosante Award is given to the student-athlete who best exemplified the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and pride of the late Irish All-America fullback,” which seems to sum up Maurice Crum pretty well.

With his Notre Dame career finished, Crum’s attention is now focused on to the NFL, and  it doesn’t really matter to the former Irish captain where he ends up.  “All of them,” Crum answered when asked which teams he followed growing up. “ If there is a game on I’m routing for the team with the better defense.”

Playing for Notre Dame the past four years has made Crum a versatile player for the next level. Over the past four seasons Crum’s played all over the Notre Dame linebacking corps – sometimes maybe even a bit out of position at times when it was necessary.

Crum never complained about being bounced around between the different linebacking positions during his career though.  He didn’t complain when his streak of 43 consecutive starts was snapped against Washington this season either when the Irish opened the game in a defensive package which he wasn’t a part of.  Despite battling through some back injuries throughout his career, the Washington game this past season was the only game which he did not start from the season opener against Pitt in 2005 through the 2008 finale in the Hawaii Bowl.

That was just the type of player Crum was throughout his Notre Dame career – the consummate team player and leader.

With Notre Dame playing both a 4-3 and 3-4 base defense during his time in South Bend, Crum has experience playing multiple positions in multiple base defensive alignments.  He doesn’t see himself as better suited for either defense though.  “Honestly, I’m a football player, and I can play any position – just get me the play book!” he told UHND.com when asked which defensive front he felt his skills were the best fit for.

Playing for coaches with NFL backgrounds in Weis and defensive coordinator Corwin Brown has Crum prepared for football at the next level as well.  “I know what to expect,” Crum said when asked how Weis and Brown helped prepare him for the NFL.  “They both are really good coaches,” he would add.

At Notre Dame’s recent Pro Day, Crum turned in a performance which he described as OK.  “It went OK.  I would like to have done better in my 40 and some other drills, but I had fun,” he told UHND.  His 40 time from the event was listed as 4.85 in the official press release from the University.

Forty yard dash times don’t measure the true value which Crum brings to a defense though.  “My greatest strength is that I am a smart player who can be an extension of the coach on the field,” Crum told us.  As the middle linebacker for the Irish over the past three seasons – Crum was just that for the Irish.

While Crum is preparing for the next stage in his career, his former teammates and coaches are busy preparing for what could be a make or break season for head coach Charlie Weis.  “I love Coach Weis to death,” Crum said.  “He is an excellent coach and I think that he has done a great job and will bounce back strong this year,” he would add.

Crum also told us that he expects some big things from junior linebacker Brian Smith in 2009.  “I think that Brian Smith will come into his own this year and really start to be a playmaker and take over games,” he said when asked what linebacker would surprise Notre Dame fans the most this fall.

With the draft approaching, it still isn’t certain where Crum projects.  He told us that he’s been told he projects to be either a late round pick or undrafted free agent.  One thing is certain though – Notre Dame is losing a heck of a leader and a great Notre Dame man.

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