Aug. 1, 2002
Linebacker Angelo Crowell was an iron man for the Virginia defense during the 2001 season. The second-team ACC selection set a single season Cavalier record with 144 tackles and he was on the field for almost every defensive play from scrimmage. Based on his performance, it was only fitting that his teammates added the role of co-captain to his resume for his senior season.
“Assuming a leadership role is something I had to work on,” Crowell said. “For a long time, I was just trying to make sure I knew my plays, I knew my position, and I knew what I had to do. A lot of the freshmen and young guys are going to play off my instincts and what I do on the field. So, what I had to do [during spring practice and summer workouts] was not only get myself ready to play, but get a lot of other guys ready to play.”
There is no doubt Crowell will be ready to play when Virginia hosts Colorado State in the Jim Thorpe Classic on August 22. The Winston-Salem native should move from being considered one of the top linebackers in the ACC to one of the top linebackers in the country this season. He is a candidate for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top defensive player.
“Angelo has all the qualities you want,” according to head coach Al Groh. “He has a high motor and a high intensity to be a very good player.”
Crowell’s intensity was further developed by Groh and UVa’s assistant coaches last season. The co-captain hopes the passion he and the coaches share for the game will inspire his teammates.
“A lot of the coaches we have played the game,” Crowell said. “So they know the intensity level that it takes to really get it done on the field. So some days when you’re dragging, you can look at them and just get some positive motivation to really push forward, bring your intensity level up and make some plays.”
Crowell and his defensive teammates enter the season with confidence after a strong finish to the 2001 season. UVa held its last two opponents, Virginia Tech and Penn State, scoreless in the second half of each game. Now that many of the players have been a part of this defense for a full season and two spring practice periods, Crowell believes the unit is ready to tackle one of the nation’s most difficult schedules. Nine of Virginia’s 13 opponents went to bowl games last season.
“If you’re a competitor, you love the schedule,” Crowell said. “A true competitor is always going to be up to the challenge. We play a lot of quality teams and we just have to be ready to step up to the plate every week.”