[Vandal] ‘Big Saan’ Has Made An Impact At Idaho

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Fri Nov 12 09:29:25 PST 2021


>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoFriday, November 12, 2021
‘Big Saan’ Has Made An Impact At Idaho
Veteran defensive tackle, blocker Rahsaan Crawford has seen it all during his time as a Vandal
By Stephan Wiebe
MOSCOW — On the field, senior Rahsaan Crawford is a key cog in Idaho’s “muscle” package — a power running formation that has a 100-percent conversion rate on third and fourth downs this season. A two-way player, he also plays defensive tackle.
Off the field, he’s nearing 10 months as an intern with the City of Pullman and is less than two months away from earning a master’s degree in public administration.
He might not rack up a ton of notches in the stat book, but the sixth-year veteran has played all around the field during his time as a Vandal, even spending time on the offensive line as a redshirt freshman in 2017.
Crawford helps clear the way for others to make the big play, whether it’s his linebackers swarming in for tackles after he clogs up the opposing offensive line, or by paving the way for a running back to get a big touchdown. The muscle package was responsible for two of Roshaun Johnson’s school-record six touchdowns in the Vandals’ 42-24 victory Saturday against Southern Utah.
“It’s beautiful man, I’m able to exhibit some athleticism and be able to get on the other side of the ball, open up holes,” Crawford said of playing on offense. “I think the package I was in was responsible for two of Ro’s touchdowns of the six, so that’s a plus for me, as long as I can go in there and open up holes for the guys.”
In practice, Crawford often is seen sprinting from one end of the Kibbie Dome to the other when he’s needed for a play on offense or defense.
Does 5-foot-11, 309-pound “Big Saan” get tired of it?
Not at all.
“I actually love the ‘hoorahs’ and stuff I get when I’m going out there on offense,” Crawford said. “It seems like all the guys gravitate towards me when they call ‘muscle.’ The whole huddle gets loud ’cause they know it’s time to convert or time to go get a touchdown.”
Crawford’s only wish is to maybe have his own number called. Idaho has two games left to make it happen — at noon Saturday (SWX/ESPN+) at No. 3 Montana State and Nov. 20 at Idaho State.
He just needs coach Paul Petrino to give him a chance.
“I’m gonna run out super hard, run behind my pads, low pad level and I’m gonna get in there, trust me,” Crawford said, smiling. “There’s not too many guys in the Big Sky that can tackle me. I believe that.”
Speaking of his number, Crawford became the first Vandal to sport No. 0 when he switched jerseys in the spring.
Since he was going to be playing on offense, he needed to swap from his usual No. 55 to an eligible number. Petrino came up with No. 44, but Crawford wanted something flashier.
“I’m like ‘44? If we’re going to do it, let’s do it big, man. Let me get a single digit,’ ” Crawford said. “And he just kinda laughed and walked off, so I didn’t know what to make of it.”
The next day, Crawford walked in to see a No. 0 jersey sitting on his pads. Just like that, one of Idaho’s biggest players started wearing the smallest number for the first time ever.
It was a fitting little honor for a player that has seen it all since he joined the team in 2016 all the way from Tucker, Ga. — a suburb of Atlanta.
That year, the Vandals won the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, defeating Colorado State 60-51 in a barnburner at Boise’s Albertsons Stadium.
In the years that followed, he witnessed Idaho’s move down to the Big Sky and the Football Championship Subdivision, and Idaho records of 4-7, 4-8, 5-7 and 2-4 during the COVID-19 spring season. Idaho is 3-6 this season.
He’s seen position changes, fluctuation in playing time and had to work 40 hours per week at Walmart during the offseason to help pay the bills.
Through it all, he’s tried to maintain a positive attitude.
Crawford said he feels fortunate to be where he is. Back home, he has friends and knows folks who “don’t necessarily have a home, might be caught up in the penitentiary and the judicial system and stuff like that.”
It was a bit of a culture shock when he first flew into frozen Moscow all those years ago, but he doesn’t regret a second of it.
Crawford said he’s not sure what’s next, although he’s interested in maybe getting into coaching or putting his masters degree to use. Either way, he’s just going to take it one day at a time.
“What I can say about being out here in Idaho, period, is that I came out here when I was 18 years old and I’ve literally walked every path, took every journey that you can take at the University of Idaho, I believe,” he said. “I’ve been on the winning teams, been on the losing teams and I’ve been on the average teams.
“... I just try to stay positive, man, along with taking pride in wearing the black and gold and coming to the University of Idaho every day. I take a lot of pride in that and I’m very positive and very fortunate to be in the situation that I’m in.”
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