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November 24, 2011
Fifth-year graduate student Wayne Crawford came to NC State as a defensive tackle. After redshirting in 2007, he saw action in six games the following season on defense and totaled four stops, including 0.5 for loss.
When the Wolfpack needed another offensive lineman, though, the 6-foot-3, 303-pounder was happy to switch sides of the ball and play where he was needed. Crawford was in at center for five snaps during the 2009 season and appeared in a total of five games last season at guard and center.
He graduated last May with a degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing and returned for his final season of eligibility this fall. After he appeared in each of the first five games at the pivot this season, though, injuries had decimated the Pack's depth along the defensive front and the big man was called on to change to his original position, which he now prefers after playing defensive tackle in five of the last six contests.
"It's pretty unique, but it's a lot of fun to be back on defense," he said. "Defense is pretty instinctive and I prefer defense, I guess.
"I just prefer being a person that has a role on the team and filling that role, doing my best for the team is what I prefer doing, but I do like defense a little bit better because of the instinctive nature of it."
Crawford has recorded five tackles, including one for a three-yard loss against Virginia, since switching back to the defensive line. Although he spent two full seasons away from the position, he feels he has re-learned how to play defense and is comfortable bringing down ball carriers now instead of blocking for them.
The native of Philadelphia, Pa. has also made quite an impact off the field. He's recognized as one of the most active players on the team in community service and he spearheaded the birth of an "Uplifting Athletes" chapter at NC State that raises money for leukemia research. He served as President in the inaugural year of the Pack's chapter.
"It's doing really well," he said. "It's a non-profit organization and it's a student organization on campus - it's all football student-athletes trying to raise money for leukemia research. It's an under-funded disease that affects 200,000 Americans per year. There was a need for it and just seeing what Coach [Dana] Bible went through was kind of where we got our inspiration to do it.
"We just had our elections for new officers last week, so that will come out pretty soon, who all the new officers are and stuff. It looks like it will be a pretty good, sustainable thing here."
Crawford's hope is that the Uplifting Athletes chapter will last long after his time at the University is done. This year, the group put on a college football video game challenge and also collected money through a residence hall "penny war" at a tailgating event prior to the Cincinnati game. They also hope to conduct a Lift for Life event in the spring to help raise money.
"It's been amazing; hopefully, it will last long after I'm gone, long after the new President is gone. It would a great feeling."
Another great feeling for Crawford will be coming out of the tunnel in front of a packed house at Carter-Finley Stadium for one last time on Saturday against Maryland. The Pack will honor their 20 seniors before the game for Senior Day.
"I'm excited, it's been a long time," he said. "Everybody says it flew by real fast; for me, it felt like it really took five years. I'm excited to move on to the next chapter in my life. It's a little foggy about what I will do but change is always good."
However long it has felt like, the big man has no doubts about his favorite memory from his time in the Red and White.
"Beating Carolina five times, that was great, and just being on the field, making plays with my buddies," he said.