Former Gateway lineman Crystol tabbed preseason All-American at Thiel
By Michael Love
Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jason Crystol just wants to win.
The Thiel College junior offensive lineman experienced a winless season as a freshman in 2011.
Last year, the Tomcats football team won three games. They finished 3-7 overall and 3-5 in the Presidents Athletic Conference.
Thiel is hoping to make another jump in 2013, and Crystol, a Gateway graduate, will be a prominent member of the Tomcats' efforts to be a factor both in and out of conference play.
Crystol will take with him a big honor, as he recently was named a fourth-team preseason All-American in Division III by USA Football News.
“I was shocked when I found out,” he said.
“I was shaking. It's a great honor for me and a great honor for the program. I have expectations to uphold, and I have to work hard to live up to the recognition. Hopefully, I will still be an All-American at the end of the season.”
Crystol, a 5-foot-11, 250-pound anchor of the offensive line at the center position, is the only Thiel player to be named to any one of the four teams.
Last year, Crystol garnered second-team All-PAC honors after starting eight games on the offensive line.
“We have a lot of people back with a lot of experience,” he said.
“We worked really hard in the offseason, and, from what I can understand, everyone is working really hard over the summer. We're really confident we can do some nice things this season.”
Crystol is hoping to help the offense improve productivity in both the running and passing games. He said he never is satisfied with past numbers, no matter how they played out.
Thiel averaged 127.8 rush yards per game in 2012, compared to 111.2 for its opponents. Through the air, Thiel accumulated 140.4 yards per contest.
“I love seeing different defensive formations and calling out plays and audibles to put the offense in the best position,” Crystol said.
Kurt Reiser, Thiel's head coach, also is in charge of the offensive line, and, he said, he likes what Crystol brings in the trenches.
“With our center position, we ask him to do a lot of things,” Reiser said.
“Jason is a very intelligent football player. He makes all of our line calls. For a good-sized kid, he's very athletic. He does what we ask of him very well.”
Reiser said he knew the preseason All-American honor was a possibility.
“We had some conversations in the spring that he could be one of the best linemen in the conference,” Reiser said.
Reiser said Crystol is taking the recognition in stride.
“Jason has a tremendous work ethic,” he said.
“He worked very hard in spring practices and in the weight room. He's earned the recognition and respect as a hard worker by the other players on the team. Individual awards are nice, but I know he's concentrating more on helping the team win.”
Crystol said he is just happy to be playing college football and happy to be in a position to be successful.
“All the practices, time in the weight room and hard work adds up,” he said.
Thiel opens its season on the road Sept. 7 against Juniata College before playing its home opener against the University of Rochester on Sept. 14.
The Tomcats open PAC play Sept. 21 in Beaver Falls against Geneva College.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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