The Mid-American Conference, more often referred to as the “MAC,” canceled its fall football season due to health concerns, and for now, there’s nothing concrete surrounding the possibility of a winter or spring season. It’s a situation that could result in the under-representation of many 2021 NFL Draft prospects in the MAC. While they’re burdened by uncertainty, it’s up to us to let the world know who they are. One player who deserves to be recognized is Kent State QB Dustin Crum.
Here’s a little piece of trivia for you: In 2019, two collegiate starting quarterbacks had at least 18 passing touchdowns and less than two interceptions. The first one, as you probably already know, is Ohio State’s Justin Fields. The second? It’s not one of the big names. It’s Crum.
Crum put himself on the map with a standout 2019 season, throwing for 2,625 yards, 20 touchdowns, and just two picks while completing nearly 70 percent of his passes. He also put up 706 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns for good measure.
Crum, along with second-year head coach Sean Lewis, helped lead the Kent State Golden Flashes to their first bowl win in program history, and he was the star in the 51-41 contest.
Crum was set to build on his 2019 success with an even better 2020 season, potentially putting Kent State in the conversation to become the MAC conference champions. But the MAC’s cancellation of the fall football season put a wrench in his plans.
Now Crum waits, like so many other players, with there being a chance that he never plays football at the collegiate level again. Regardless of this unexpected detour, Crum has reason to be optimistic. He had a strong 2019 season, and maybe just good enough to give him a shot in the 2021 NFL Draft. Here’s what makes Crum such an exciting prospect from the MAC ranks.
Analyzing Kent State QB Dustin Crum
Dustin Crum as a passer
Standing at 6-foot-3, 201, Crum isn’t dominant from a size or athleticism standpoint, but his game catches the attention of the watching eye, nonetheless. Crum brings an impressive blend of mobility and measuredness to the table, and he’s very crafty both in and out of the pocket.
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As a thrower, Crum has moments where his arm strength very much stands out. He doesn’t necessarily have a strong arm; his arm would probably fall somewhere toward the middle on the spectrum. But Crum can generate good velocity when his base is set, and his deep passing accuracy is particularly impressive. He can drop the ball right into his receivers’ hands and isn’t afraid to push downfield.
Crum can be more proactive as a passer. He doesn’t show a ton of anticipation, and he often breaks away from the pocket before going through all of his reads. But the smarts are clearly there for him to build on, so when he becomes more patient and less skittish, he can process fast enough to take advantage of plays when they become available to him, and further showcase his developing accuracy.
Dustin Crum as a runner
Crum’s running ability both perplexes and excites. As evidenced by his production, Crum is more than capable as a runner, but he doesn’t look the type. He’s not overly athletic, and he had some bad weight toward the end of the 2019 season. But regardless, Crum kept on churning out significant gains, sometimes at the expense of defenders who tried to tackle him.
A long-strider, Crum’s specialty seemed to be staying on his feet in 2019, especially in the team’s bowl game against the Utah State Aggies. Crum showcased his adept ability to step through arm tackles and work his way to open space. Tacklers have to impose themselves if they want to bring Crum down. Otherwise, he’ll slip through and keep going.
Crum is also a very smart runner, just as he is capable. His vision is superb as he scrambles into the open field, and on designed runs, he actively works to manipulate and mislead the defense. One such play occurred in the team’s bowl game, where Crum executed a read option, held the ball in the running back’s hands until the linebacker committed to the running back, then wrenched it away and sprinted into the open field.
Crum’s running ability helped him forge an identity last season as a formidable dual-threat quarterback. While some quarterbacks crumble in the face of pressure, Crum always seeks to keep the play alive. He has the playmaking gene in those situations where chaos demands it.
As mentioned above, there were times when Crum’s tendency to run was detrimental, as he passed up opportunities downfield. But Crum’s utility as a runner gives him versatility that other quarterbacks don’t have — a versatility that is becoming increasingly important in the modern NFL.
Crum’s draft outlook
There’s no sugarcoating this for the sake of the everlasting “underdog” story. If Crum, now a senior QB at Kent State, doesn’t get to preserve his eligibility and return to college football in 2021, he’s unlikely to be drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft.
There’s a chance a team could bank on him in the sixth or seventh round, but without the guarantee of a 2020 season, that hope is clouded. That’s not an indictment of Crum so much as it is his situation.
Even after his breakout season, there are more than a dozen quarterbacks with more name recognition, and the question of competition level does still linger for the signal-caller. Plenty of talented players have gone undrafted. Crum wouldn’t be the first.
Going undrafted would present Crum with an opportunity to beat the odds again, just as he did by winning a bowl game with the Flashes. Given Crum’s able arm, his mobility, and his mental acuity, he could claim a role at the NFL level if given an opportunity. Sometimes that’s all a player needs.