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Former Kent State quarterback Dustin Crum will try his luck in the NFL Draft

Photo of Dustin Crum
Kent State University Athletics
Former Kent State University quarterback Dustin Crum is hoping to get selected in this week's NFL Draft.

Kent State University’s former quarterback is trying his luck in the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday. Lorain County native Dustin Crum helped turn around the Golden Flashes’ football team the past three years.

Sports commentator Terry Pluto says Crum is an underdog in the draft, just as he was when he arrived at Kent State in 2017.

An underdog
Out of high school, Crum got just one Division I offer — from former KSU coach Paul Hayes.

"At that point, Kent State was terrible. And I think they saw that this guy really achieved, and he's a very smart student. Why not bring him in? But nobody else was even looking at him," Pluto said.

Another coach was scouting him, Sean Lewis, who was an assistant at Bowling Green at the time. He passed on Crum. Then Lewis became the coach at Kent State at the end of the 2017 season.

"Sean said, 'I passed on Crum the first time at Bowling Green. Now I have him my first year there. Do I start him right away? No,'" Pluto said.

So, Crum wasn't the starter in 2018.

"Crum could have easily said he wanted to transfer, but he stays," Pluto said.

Then the coaches started to take notice.

"They put him in. He wins the job the following year in 2019, and they go to a bowl game. He starts the next year, and in 2021, he starts again. They go to another bowl game. All of a sudden, NFL scouts start looking at Kent State tapes," Pluto said.

"He was All-State. He went to Kent State. He survived a coaching change. He worked. He was patient. He takes this team to two bowl games, three winning seasons in the MAC, and now he's waiting out the draft."
Terry Pluto

Getting NFL attention
Then earlier this year Crum got invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, where he got to show off his skills in front of NFL teams. Now he's awaiting his fate in the draft.

Pluto says other recent KSU quarterbacks who made it to the NFL ended up playing other positions.

"Josh Cribbs became a Hall of Fame-caliber special teams player, but he didn't really play quarterback. And then Julian Edelman, who was drafted in the 7th round by New England, was wide receiver," Pluto said.

Pluto said it's unlikely that Crum will be a player who could adapt to another position in the NFL. Still, Pluto says Crum's legacy is already cemented.

"You don't define a player like this who's been an underdog his entire career by, did he go in the NFL draft? You define by what he did with what he had when he played at Midview High School under his father, Scott, who was the offensive coordinator. He was All-State. He went to Kent State. He survived a coaching change. He worked. He was patient. He takes this team to two bowl games, three winning seasons in the MAC, and now he's waiting out the draft. In the meantime, he's graduated with a degree in aeronautical engineering," Pluto said.

So, why does Crum have NFL ambitions when he'd likely be a third or fourth string quarterback?

"I think because his view is, 'Every time I got a chance to play, whether it's in high school or whether it's at Kent State, I surprised everybody.' So a lot of times a lot of players like Dustin Crum look and see Josh Cribbs and Julian Edelman. Nobody gave him a chance, and they played in the NFL a long time. [Crum says], 'I'm going to keep knocking on some doors until I'm sure they're locked or until I kick them open,'" Pluto said.

Crum's chances
And Pluto says if Crum isn't drafted, he still has a chance to get on a team.

"Every team has a list of probably 25 to 30 players that they're going to invite to camp, and they sometimes give them bonuses, $50,000 to $100,000 to come in. But Dustin will get calls, I'm guessing, from at least five teams, if not more," Pluto said.

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Amanda Rabinowitz is the host of “All Things Considered” on Ideastream Public Media.