Aug 14, 2012
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, IL - When a member of the Crum family sets their mind to accomplish something, don't bet against them.
For example, in an era when most true freshmen take a year off from football by redshirting, Saluki offensive lineman Tanner Crum was determined he would play his rookie campaign in 2011.
"I told the coaches from the beginning that I wasn't going to redshirt, and they kind of chuckled at me," he recalled.
Crum got the last laugh, as only he and kicker Chris Adams played as true freshmen for the Salukis a year ago. Not only did Crum play all 11 games, but he worked on both sides of the ball and started the last six games at offensive guard.
As a freshman at Mt. Carmel High School, Tanner set a personal goal of winning the state heavyweight wrestling title. He finished second his sophomore year, third his junior year, before finally claiming the championship as a senior. He also set the state record for pins in a single season with 36.
Hard-willed determination defines the Crum family. Tanner's grandfather, Bill Crum, played football, basketball and baseball at SIU before being drafted into the Korean War.
In Korea, Bill was a communications expert, who ran cable between the front line and the command post. It was daring and often deadly work. Bill fought in the infamous battle of Pork Chop Hill, which he described as "18 days of hell." Then came orders to take back Old Baldy Hill from the Chinese -- a suicide mission, in which men turned in their wallets to supply, assuming they would not return. Fortunately, the orders were rescinded.
"After my grandpa came home from the war, he was a head football coach at Newman High School," Tanner said. "They had about 150 kids in the school and only 30 on the team, but they became the smallest school in the state of Illinois to win a state championship."
Kevin made sure his kids embodied the same work ethic as the family patriarch.
"I had my first job when I was seven years old -- mowing lawns with my older brother," he said. "My parents told me, if you want anything in this life, you're going to work for it."
Tanner and his older brother, Logan, are driven to succeed. At age 24, Logan is the youngest high school head football coach in Illinois at Edwards County High School near their hometown of Mt. Carmel. The brothers talk daily on the phone about their football careers.
A burly 6-foot-2 and 314 pounds, much of Tanner's strength was developed from his job working on oilfield rigs in high school. In fact, he went back home for Christmas Break last year and laid four miles of flow lines in two days, working dusk to dawn. Tanner said he's 10 pounds heavier this year and hasn't lost any quickness.
"I made it a goal this year to add muscle mass and take off a little bit of baby fat I had left," he said.
His next goal is to win a National Championship. Based on his family track record, consider it done.
It was overcast and a tad cool at practice today. You couldn't ask for better weather. Here's a few practice notes:
With Dalton Morgan injured, the Salukis are down to two tight ends in practice, so MyCole Pruitt and Adam Fuehne are getting a ton of reps. Both players made nice catches in practice today. Fuehne dug out a low throw from QB Matt Vincent on a crossing route and made a nifty grab of a Ryan West pass. Fuehne's parents attended practice today...The latest player to line up at the right tackle spot with the first team was sophomore Clayton Melville...It was a good day for the O-line in terms of run blocking. Position coach Phil Meyer praised the group several times...The catch of the day was made by WR Shawn Mitchell who made a remarkable 1-handed grab, in traffic, on a fly route thrown by West. The entire offense ran downfield to congratulate him...CB Trey Colbert and OLB Cory Lee made some nice break-ups in pass coverage, but the offense seemed to have the upper hand today.