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Former Penn-Trafford football standout 'humbled' by preseason recognition with W&J

| Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 9:03 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Washington & Jefferson athletics
Washington & Jefferson offensive lineman Zack Crossey (center) walks to the line during a game during the 2013 season.

Zack Crossey achieved a lot in his first two seasons with the Washington & Jefferson football team, but the rising junior offensive lineman wants even more.

That's why, with the season still more than two months away, he's closely following the team's offseason workout program in the hopes of getting better for the 2014 campaign.

“I think (this time is) really important,” he said. “You're by yourself because you're not with your team anymore when you go home for the summer. You've got to trust everyone to work out and follow that packet so you guys can be successful. You don't want people not working out and then coming in out of shape. You want to be at the best of your ability.”

Crossey played to his potential in 2013. In his sophomore season at W&J, the 2012 Penn-Trafford graduate earned first-team all-conference honors from the Presidents' Athletic Conference and helped the Presidents win their second consecutive PAC championship.

“He came in (last season) in great shape, ready to roll,” said Washington & Jefferson offensive line coach Todd Young. “He was battling with another older kid, but to be honest with you, the kid never had a chance. Zack just came in and outworked him. He didn't want to take no for an answer. He's that guy that finished the blocks during camp. He would just go to the edge and go to the whistle.”

A center during his time at Penn-Trafford, Crossey switched to left tackle — “the toughest position to play in football,” Young said — at W&J. He overcame the difficulties of the position switch, along with a lingering ankle injury, to start the second half of his freshman season.

Last year, Crossey took on a vocal leadership role on the offensive line as the Presidents won the PAC title before falling, 34-20, to eventual national runner-up Mt. Union in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Young said he expected Crossey to be an overall offensive leader in 2014.

“I try to do whatever it takes to make everyone better,” Crossey said. “I really want our team to succeed. In my four years, I want to get four rings. That's my goal, and I feel that's our team goal. We want to go as far as we can in the playoffs, and I'll do whatever it takes to make that happen.”

On the field, Young said Crossey is a “devastating blocker” who plays with an edge and excels in both pass and run blocking. Crossey gained even more recognition last month when The Sporting News placed him on its preseason All-American list.

“He ranks right up there in my 15 years here, and I've had pretty much an All-American every year,” Young said. “He ranks right up there in the top four or five I've ever coached, and he could be the top one by the time he's done. You just notice him because he flies all over the field.”

Although Crossey said he was “humbled” by the preseason All-American recognition, he added it was only adding more motivation for him to get better before Washington & Jefferson's training camp begins in mid-August.

“I'm ready, honestly, to just get back on the field and start hitting some people,” he said. “I can't wait to be with the team. That's always the best, to be with the guys, get working hard in camp. I can't wait for the season.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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