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Even though he's been a First-Team All-American and a two-time first-team all-conference defensive tackle, Jared Crick has always been the one putting the moves on an unsuspecting quarterback, hunting him down and then sacking him like a grocer throwing a gallon of milk in a brown paper sack.
Twenty times Crick has made a sack in his stellar Cornhusker career, but let the record show that shortly before noon Monday at Lincoln's Roper Elementary School, Crick got sacked himself, and here's the ironic part ... he got sacked by his own family - his mom and dad and his grandma and grandpa, all of whom were in an audience that surprised and cheered Crick for becoming one of 11 Division I college football players named to the 2011 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.
"I was real surprised when I saw my parents and grandparents. It's crazy," Crick said. "It's one of the few times they've surprised me like this. I didn't think anything like that could happen. Everyone did a great job of keeping this under wraps. I can't be more excited."
The Big Ten Conference 2011 preseason Defensive Player of the Year, Crick is sidelined the rest of the season following surgery for a torn pectoral, but keeps busy and stays active in team meetings and attends practices. On a Monday when he has been a steady fixture at Nebraska's weekly football press conferences, Crick instead was across town, talking to kids about how to "Just Say No" to drugs.
After he finished, Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne told the kids why Crick was a special member of the football team and such a great addition to the community. Then he let them all in on a little secret ... Jared was getting a special award that day, and that's when his parents and grandparents walked in to join him.
Nominator Gets to Honor Crick for Good Works
Allstate agent Mitch Happ told the kids about how Crick had educated children on the effects of bullying and had visited with patients at a hospice center and how he was always gracious to give back to others. So to help honor him, Happ introduced Danny McEntarffer to present the special award. A lay pastor at St. Mark's United Methodist Church, McEntarffer was the one who nominated Crick for the Good Works Team.
"Jared always takes time for everyone, even when he's tired after practice or after a game," McEntarffer said. "When I read the definition of the Good Works Team, I knew it described Jared. He embodies the true spirit of teamwork and is always giving back through selfless contributions and commendable acts of kindness. Plus, he has a heart as big as Memorial Stadium."
"What can I say? Jared is phenomenal. He's the son that everybody would want to have," said Cindy Crick, Jared's mom. "He does wonderful things. I'm a third-grade teacher in Cozad now, but he's helped me everywhere I've been - whether I was at summer school, a Lutheran school in Ogallala or a country school in District 13. Whenever I would ask him to do something, he would always do it. Every year he comes to my class and talks to the kids. If it's Dr. Seuss's birthday, he comes in and reads some of his favorite books to the kids."
The books Crick craved most when he was growing up were "Little Critter" books. "He'd crawl up in bed every night and get really comfy and we'd read five or six books together before bedtime," Cindy said. Just Me and My Dad, one of the most popular books in the series, chronicles a camping trip where Little Critter has trouble helping his dad set up a tent and a bear ends up taking their freshly caught fish away from them. McEntarffer chuckles at Crick, who has become a big bear himself now at 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, a far stretch from the cuddly child he once was.
Burkhead, Jones Join Crick on Sunday Program
The night before receiving his surprise award, Crick joined teammates Rex Burkhead and Marcel Jones as speakers at a youth service at McEntarffer's church.
"They gave us more than three hours of their precious time," McEntarffer said, "and I was struck by an answer Jared gave in the question-and-answer session. He was asked who he admired most, and he told the group he admired his dad because of everything he'd done for him growing up."
David Crick, a truck driver, smiles whenever he hears anything his son says. "Jared's always been a team player, and that's what's always brought him down to earth," his father said. "He's a good kid ... level-headed. He's been in Lincoln 4½ years now, and I just think the way he gets out and tries to share what he's learned with others at schools and churches is important. All of his teammates always talk about how he's a quiet leader, and he keeps encouraging them how they'll be all right without him. They have tough kids at Nebraska."
But few like Jared, who became a collision-activated defensive lineman with an unmistakable soft spot in his heart. According to McEntarffer, Crick has a faith-based personality that matches his on-field fire. "He has a message to deliver, and it goes beyond football," McEntarffer said. "When he found out that Roy Helu Jr. spoke to our youth group last year, Jared asked me if he could speak this year, and he's been back six or seven times - sometimes just to drop in and say hi, so he can encourage the kids."
Osborne Praises Players for Their Leadership
Unbeknownst to McEntarffer or the three Husker players, Osborne was in that Sunday night audience, and he was impressed with what he saw. "It was a good night for the kids, and I thought the players shared some positive messages," Osborne said. "I am amazed at how much they are willing to reach out and help others when they have so many time constraints on themselves."
Derold Davidson, Crick's "grandpa", is just glad that Crick committed to Nebraska, where Life Skills are essential. "We may have surprised Jared today, but I'll never forget the surprise call he made to us when he was still in high school," Davidson said. "I've never been caught off guard like I was that day."
Derold and his wife Clarine were driving to Ohio when the phone rang in their 1993 Lincoln. Clarine answered and Jared told her he wanted to talk to his grandpa. She handed the phone to Derold and Jared said: "Grandpa, I'm a Husker!"
Derold could manage only a two-word response: "Oh, really?" he said, admitting "I was so excited, I about drove off the road because we about had our mind made up that he was going to be a Jayhawk. Kansas really liked him (and Nebraska hadn't offered him), so it was kind of a shock to both of us."
On that particular day, Grandpa Davidson didn't need to stop at any more gas stations because he was riding on Cloud Nine. "I was so happy," he said, "because I knew, even then, that he was just a good, All-American kid, and he would give Nebraska everything he had, just like he's always given to us. He's a good role model and a good speaker."
You Can Vote and Help Make Crick a Captain
If Husker fans agree, they can take Crick's Allstate honor up a notch and vote here and then send this link to friends and family who also might want to help Crick become the captain of the 2011 All-Works Team. It would be difficult to find a more deserving recipient than a player who bypassed a likely first-round NFL draft position to play one more year at Nebraska, only to see an injury cut his senior season short. Still, Crick's parents and grandparents have yet to hear him complain.
"Jared will do even more good works now," his mom said, recalling how reassuring her son was when he told her his Husker playing career was over. "He said: 'Mom, this is just a little bump in the road. I'm still alive. I'm still walking around, so things will work out,'" she remembers him telling her.
Jared gets a lot of his faith from his parents and grandparents. His grandma, who drove the same gravel truck for 20 years to help the family business, knows how well her grandson responds to adversity, especially since he now has an NCAA exemption to continue to travel with the team that he would literally give the shirt off his back.
"Two years ago, when Jared was asked to speak at the banquet for the seniors at our church, the gal that put the program together asked him to talk about teamwork," Clarine Davidson said. "Well, I heard Jared's talk, and all he talked about was his faith. He did a great job and later, I reminded him that he didn't cover the subject he was asked to talk about. And I remember what he told me when I pointed that out. He said: 'Grandma, I wanted to talk about something more important than the game of football. I wanted to talk about the game of life.'"
Jared Crick was a high school star, a college star and is still likely to be a successful pro, but the good news is, he has a big picture view that few others his age have ... a view, I think, that would make a good captain for anyone's Good Works team, let alone one featured on ESPN.
Volunteering His Time is 'Satisfaction Enough'
As much as Crick appreciates his award and gets a kick out of its surprise presentation, he is one All-American that never feels fully comfortable in the spotlight. "I go to schools and churches whenever and wherever anyone wants to hear me," he said. "It's definitely nice to do something for someone else. I don't do it to feel important. I know what I'm doing is the right thing, and for me, that's satisfaction enough."
Yep, Jared Crick meets all three criteria to be captain of the Good Works Team ... Leadership, Communication and Integrity. Don't take my word for it, though. Take it straight from his grandpa, who had no idea there was even an online vote for the honor. "When this Good Works thing came about," Grandpa Derold said, "I thought Jared was probably about as deserving as anybody in the country." Come Sugar Bowl time, when the Good Works Team is introduced in New Orleans, here's hoping Captain Crunch becomes Captain Crick. It has a certain ring to it, don't you think?
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