Frank Crum’s Final Ride in Laramie Filled with Fire, Urgency
LARAMIE -- Frank Crum was considered a project.
That's a nice way to put it.
"Um," Craig Bohl said, followed by an extended pause. "I would like to say this, that whole process -- Frank was a guy who was going to be a basketball player. That was one of the things, OK, he had some size, but I don't know if he could bench press 185 pounds. He played at Laramie High here and it wasn't like he was just a stalwart. But, he had a good size.
"So, he and I and his dad had a really firm conversation up in my office. I told him we were going to offer him and that I wanted him to think about that because there would be no quit."
Crum remembers that meeting with Wyoming's head coach like it was yesterday. For the record, the senior admitted, he couldn't lift that much. One of the first times he walked into the Cowboys' weight room the task was to bench 135 pounds 10 times. That didn't happen.
"I was like super embarrassed. Like, beyond belief," he said. "I was one of the weakest guys in there."
Not ideal when you are standing 6-foot-7 and tipping the scales at 260. Being a hometown kid, especially a legacy player whose father, Gary Crum, and grandfather, Earl Crum, played for the program, added even more pressure.
Now hovering around 315 pounds and an inch taller, Crum can only shake his head and grin when he recalls former teammates like Sidney Malauulu, Logan Harris and Patrick Arnold, among many others, making fun of him.
"It was a gut check for me," he said. "I really had to change my perspective."
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Wyoming's starting left tackle can now throw up 425 on the bench. He also has 36 starts under his belt. Once the butt of jokes amongst veteran teammates, Crum is now the unquestioned leader of the Cowboy's front five.
He's tough. He's demanding. He expects everyone's best.
His sense of urgency is palpable. This is Year 6 in this program. This is it.
"He pushes all the guys in a really good direction, positively," said Joe Tripodi, Wyoming's offensive line coach. "When you're in a leadership role, sometimes you need to kick people in the butt. Sometimes you also need to put your arm around them. Frank has really started to understand that. Like some of these young guards that he's playing next to, he takes some extra film with them and things like that. So that's been good. It's great to have that voice in the room that those guys respect."
Nofofia Tulafono arrived on campus in 2020. He said Crum wasn't shy about preaching the standard of what a Wyoming offensive line should look like.
"He's a big tough-love guy," said the Cowboys' junior center. "Everyone knows, that's just Frank. The bar has already been set, we have to keep meeting that standard each and every day. I mean, it's his last year. The whole O-line has to play good and look good, too."
Crum was once the young guy on the line. Alonzo Velazquez, Keegan Cryder, Harris and others, he said, didn't coddle him. Raised in this program, he added, comes with expectations, especially in the trenches where Bohl and Co. have vowed -- and delivered -- "Cowboy Tough" football.
Redshirt freshmen Luke Sandy and Wes King, two guards fighting for one spot, are now in that spot. One of those players will likely line up on Crum's right hip when Texas Tech pays a visit to Laramie Sept. 2 for the season opener.
"We're not waiting on anybody and we're not making excuses for our expectations of the day or standards that we have," Crum said. "We cannot lower those when we're going to go play Division-I football versus a Power-Five opponent. You have to catch up."
From behind the podium during one of his weekly fall camp press briefings, Bohl continued to reminisce about the day he offered Crum a scholarship. He said he wanted him throwing up in trash cans at 6 a.m. He needed to take ownership in getting bigger, stronger. More "art than science" with that decision, Bohl said he rolled the dice.
He landed 7's.
Crum knows potential got him in the door. Now, he hopes to exit with a Mountain West championship, the ultimate proof the gamble paid off.
"I can say I'm a prime example of what Wyoming Cowboy football can do to a guy who wasn't undersized in height, but was light," he said. "I wasn't skilled. I wasn't knowledgeable, coming out of high school, for this level. To all these men who have devoted their life to young men like us, have truly developed us. So yeah, the talk was, I had to take it upon myself when he gave me the opportunity."
Those extended pauses from the head coach are no more.
"He took ownership of that and he represents the state well," Bohl said. "I know he's on everybody's NFL Draft board right now. He's having a good fall camp, but what's really encouraging is, he's concerned about the Cowboys, not all the other stuff and so on.
"A little bit of a reach, but a good decision."