Crump Won't Be Denied
By Nicole Dimtsios
Gino Crump's name isn't exactly a name that's familiar among receivers in the Pac-12 Conference. But after his performance on Oct. 20 against UCLA, Crump will no longer fly under the radar in the Pac-12.
The senior racked up nine receptions for 103 yards and was crucial for quarterback Nick Foles in big situations in Arizona's 48-12 win over the Bruins.
During a drive in the first quarter, Foles threw to Crump three times in a row. Foles hit Crump on a fourth-and-four in the second quarter to extend a drive that would lead to Arizona's fourth touchdown of the game. In total, Crump was involved in three third-down plays that he was able to convert.
"It's just a by-product of guys being focused and ready to go," interim head coach Tim Kish said. "The fact that he had as many balls thrown his way, I think Nick (Foles) just felt comfortable with him running good routes and he happened to be the guy that was getting open the most."
Although he was critical to keeping the Wildcats' air attack flowing, Crump did not have a touchdown against UCLA. Juron Criner, Arizona's star receiver, had three.
Crump's season is epitomized by the game against UCLA. He is the Wildcats' leading receiver with 39 receptions with for 387 yards, yet he has gone widely unheralded. He has just one touchdown on the season through seven games.
The receiver's burst on to the scene is a recent development, as the past two games have been the best of Crump's career. In addition to his numbers against UCLA, Crump also put up seven catches for 91 yards against Oregon State.
"I definitely came into the (UCLA) game feeling a lot more comfortable, a lot more relaxed," Crump said. "I felt like (Oct. 20 was) a good day for me. I didn't have any special stats in my head but I definitely came into the game ready to go."
Compared to the rest of Arizona's receivers, it's easy to see why Crump was overlooked coming into this season. Last year, Crump finished as the 13th leading receiver, behind three running backs and two tight ends. He saw minimal action — just four catches for 39 yards, with no stats registered against conference opponents.
Now, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound receiver has worked through an adjustment period and is finally ready to put up big numbers for the Wildcats.
"I think in his eyes, he wanted to be at this point probably a year or two ago," receivers coach Dave Nichol said. "It just took him a while."
Crump's journeys winded through a myriad of different schools before settling at Arizona. He made stops at Woodrow Wilson High School, Glendale Community College and West Virginia before walking on to Arizona in 2009.
Part of the reason Crump's contributions have been so surprising is because two years ago, Nichol said Crump wasn't fully ready.
"With Gino, it was the highs were really high, but the lows were (very low)," Nichol said. "He basically finally started eliminating some really negative plays. Now we can trust you and you can play more."
He's been able to make an impact on the field by preparing his body for the longevity of a game. Nichol said Crump is a "high-rep" guy, and being productive is how he worked himself into the starting line up on Saturday against the Washington Huskies.
"It's crazy. Just work. It sounds boring, but he's one of the hardest workers we have," Nichol said.
Crump always had potential though, Nichol said. The competition with the Wildcats' deep receivers - like Dan Buckner, David Douglas and Criner - is one of the reasons Crump said his numbers have improved.
"It's a competition all the time between all the receivers," Crump said. "We all push each other."
Crump's position from non-conference contributor to the top dog among Arizona receivers wasn't something that came easily for the receiver who bounced around before settling with the Wildcats. He said that his familiarity with constant change makes it easier to focus on just playing football. Kish acknowledged a change in Crump's concentration and preparedness going into practices. Ultimately, though, Nichol said the senior's work ethic and willingness to learn is what has made the difference this year.
"He worked himself into this position," Nichol said. "It sounds corny, but he wasn't going to be denied. He's finally put it all together."
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