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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Clark emerges as top playoff receiving threat



By Mike Chappell
January 30, 2007

You'll excuse Dallas Clark if he takes a deep breath and really, really savors the moment.

It's one that culminates Sunday in Miami's Dolphin Stadium when the Indianapolis Colts meet the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. It's one that Clark has played a major role in as quarterback Peyton Manning's go-to, gotta-have-it receiver during postseason wins over Kansas City, Baltimore and the New England Patriots.

But it's a moment that, in late November, was the furthest thing from Clark's mind.

"Yeah," the veteran tight end said, "I feel very blessed. The Lord works in mysterious ways. The game can be taken away from you so fast, with an injury, being cut, not doing a good job, whatever."

In Clark's case, it was an injury. At the end of a 4-yard reception against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 26, Clark's right knee was driven into the turf. He grabbed it immediately. Team doctors rushed onto the field and the initial prognosis wasn't encouraging.

"I went out on the field and they told me it looks like an (anterior cruciate ligament)," coach Tony Dungy said.

The team was poised to place Clark on the injured reserve list the following Tuesday, ending his season. But Arthur Rettig, one of the team's orthopedic surgeons, intervened with encouraging words.

"Doc Rettig calls back and said, 'I wouldn't put him on IR yet. It may not be where he requires surgery,'" Dungy recalled.

Five weeks later, Clark was back on the field in the regular-season finale against Miami. His knee was stable, and his performance has been striking.

"I'm just trying to get open and hopefully get some balls thrown to me," Clark said. "It's something new for tight ends. We don't necessarily get the ball thrown to us too many times when you have Marv and Reg doing their thing."

That would be Pro Bowl receivers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, normally Manning's first and second options. They haven't been neutralized in the three playoff wins -- a combined 25 catches for 289 yards and one touchdown -- but neither have they taken over games.

Clark has.

With so much attention paid on the outside to Harrison and Wayne, Clark has exploited the vulnerable middle and linebacker coverage. He leads the team with 17 receptions, 14 of which have produced first downs. He leads all postseason receivers with 281 yards.

The enormity of Clark's contributions can't be overstated. Consider the Colts have had only 11 100-yard receiving games in their postseason history. Clark has accounted for three. Hall of Famer Lenny Moore had two, Harrison and Hall of Famer Raymond Berry one each.

"You work so hard all year and your job is to be there when your number's called," Clark said. "I'm just glad I've been in the right spot at the right time and made some plays."

Miracle Man




Ginn Sr. among the appreciated

January 30, 2007

Dennis Manoloff

Ted Ginn Sr. received a special tribute Monday night at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards for the opportunities he has provided young athletes in the area.

The Glenville High School football coach was thrilled to be honored -- but not so as to pad his résumé or put another item in his trophy case.

"This is huge because it's about Cleveland kids," said Ginn, whose projects include the Ted Ginn Sr. Foundation. "I don't work for awards or recognition, but if the kids are recognized, that's great. Through the tribute, I want people to know that if you give the kids the right guidance, if you give them the love, patience and understanding, then they can rise to whatever they want to be.

"Youngsters all over the city, all over the country, need a lot of love."

Among the young men who love Ginn is Donte Whitner, who just finished his rookie season as a defensive back with the Buffalo Bills. Whitner, a presenter Monday night at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel, played at Glenville and Ohio State before being drafted in the first round by Buffalo.

"Without coach Ginn, I would not be in the National Football League," said Whitner, who had 105 tackles and one interception for the Bills. "He's an amazing human being. He means so much to the entire community. What I learned from coach Ginn goes far beyond football."

Ginn is the subject of a documentary by John Dauphin titled "Winning Lives: The Story of Ted Ginn Sr." It is due out in the fall. Some of the footage was shown at the sports awards.

Dauphin, free-lance writer from Worthington, Ohio, and a public-relations coordinator for NASCAR, has spent countless hours with Ginn since last summer. He cannot get enough.

"I obviously have great respect for his work and what he's attempting to do," Dauphin said. "The bottom line with coach Ginn is he's real, as genuine as it gets. And his love for children is incredible. He goes to great lengths to understand their world, so he can figure out the best way for them to succeed."

Ginn develops such strong ties with his players, they view him as a father figure long past their days in direct contact.

"I feel like a second father, a second adult in their lives after their parents," Ginn said. "I'm privileged to have that role, and I take it very seriously."

Ginn's message, no matter how much athletic talent the youngster possesses, centers on dedication. His son, Ted Jr., certainly listened. Junior is in line to become a high first-round pick in April after three standout seasons as a receiver and a kick returner at Ohio State.

When his son made the decision to turn pro after his junior year, Ginn Sr. kept the advice simple.

"I told him to stay calm and stay humble," Ginn Sr. said. "He is about to enter a whole new world, and he needs to focus on doing the right thing because a lot of people are looking up to him."

Ginn Jr. and Whitner are part of a Glenville pipeline Ginn Sr. has built to Columbus. Another member is Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, who earned the GCSA's Outstanding Collegiate Athlete award. Ginn Sr. said there is no reason the pipeline cannot continue full-throttle.

"As long as the right example is set, you expect good things to happen," Ginn Sr. said. "These young men are providing tremendous motivation for the next group."
Smith has credited Ginn, among others, for his rise to Heisman winner.

"I feel good about that, but it doesn't end there," Ginn Sr. said. "I have to keep going to work."

Smith and LeBron James, named Outstanding Pro Athlete, were not in attendance Monday night. Smith was at a quarterback skills challenge in Florida as part of Super Bowl week; GCSA officials did not receive an explanation from James, who missed his fourth straight GCSA.

Ginn Jr. was among the many big names who did make it. Ginn Jr. was in a walking boot, the result of his middle-foot sprain at the BCS Championship Game in Arizona.

The GCSA, the major annual fund-raiser for the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, is the biggest sports show in Northeast Ohio. Sports Commission officials announced a sellout -- 1,240 -- for the first time in the seven years of the event.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Clark producing big numbers in playoffs



By Peter King
January 29, 2007

Stat of the Week

Talk about a big factor in the playoffs. Dallas Clark has beat linebackers up the seam and on short out patterns with the precise Peyton Manning finding him regularly in the Colts' 3-0 playoff run heading into the Super Bowl. Take a look at his production and that of the Colts two Pro Bowl wideouts:

Friday, January 26, 2007

Ginn Signs with Neil Cornrich, NC Sports



January 26, 2007
Len Pasquarelli

Ted Ginn Jr., the scintillating Ohio State wide receiver and return man whose speed and playmaking skills could land him in the top 10 in the draft, has signed with Cleveland-area agent Neil Cornrich.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Clark playing 'huge' for Colts



By Gary Mihoces
January 25, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS — Though the Indianapolis Colts have a set of Pro Bowl wide receivers in Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, quarterback Peyton Manning's prime target this postseason has been a tight end who loves the feel of a wide open passing lane.

"It's very joyful for me, and I really like that better than just blocking all day," says Dallas Clark, in his fourth NFL season from the University of Iowa.

"Getting out is kind of like a lineman picking up a fumble and being able to actually touch the ball. Wow! … It's the same enjoyment being out there running with Marv and Reggie."

In three playoff games, Clark has 17 catches for 281 yards and an average of 16.5 yards per reception — all team highs.

In last Sunday's AFC title-game victory against the New England Patriots, he led the Colts with six catches for 137 yards, including a fourth-quarter play of 52 yards.

"Dallas was huge," said Colts coach Tony Dungy, who said the Patriots defense was set to take away the outside receivers.

At 6-foot-3, the hard-bodied Clark actually is not as hefty as the 252 pounds listed by the Colts.

"That's generous. Maybe 240," says Dungy. "He's not what you'd call a prototypical tight end, not a big guy. But he blocks very well. ... He's done a great job for us, and we look for the guy that can get down the middle of the field and catch the ball deep. So we're probably never going to have the 260-pound tight ends a lot of people have."

Clark, a first-round draft pick in 2003, has become particularly important this season because of injuries to slot receivers Brandon Stokley (knee) and Ricky Proehl (hamstring). On some plays, Clark is a virtual wide receiver from the slot, inside the wide receiver.

"It's very enjoyable because if they asked me to do anything else I probably wouldn't have a job," says Clark. "If they asked me to down block on D-ends all day like some teams … I can't do that very well.

"But as much as they let me run and catch balls and block here and there, block out in the slot, I love it."

Said Dungy: "We can have him in the lineup and play a three-wide receiver type game or we can play a two-tight end game. He can catch the ball and block at the point of attack. He helps us tremendously."

In the regular season, Clark had 30 catches for 367 yards and four touchdowns. The Colts other tight end, 6-6, 251-pound Ben Utecht, had 37 catches for 377 yards and no touchdowns.

In December, Clark missed four games with what the Colts initially feared was a torn knee ligament (ACL). "I went out on the field and they told me it looked like an ACL, and we were ready to put him on IR the next Tuesday," says Dungy.

Upon further medical review, it was deemed a sprain. No surgery was required. Clark returned for the final regular season game.

In the playoff opener against Kansas City, he had nine catches for 103 yards. He says the layoff left him feeling "fresher" in the postseason.

"When you take a vacation from your job, you come back and you just have that extra bounce in your step," he says. "I had a four-week layoff so (I) was just able to get refreshed and come back. … I didn't think I was going to be able to come back this year. I enjoyed it a little more because I realized how quickly it can be taken away from you."

Going into the Super Bowl, he is flattered to be described as a virtual wide receiver.

"Absolutely, especially with the guys I have around me," he says. "Just to be even thought of or mentioned is awesome. … Those guys are very, very, very good, and to be with those guys every day is definitely making me a better player."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

If I could hire one coach, it would be Bob Stoops



January 23, 2007

Richard Justice

There's just no nonsense with Bob Stoops. First of all, he's a man of his word. Second, he's a great coach. He's a great teacher, too. Spend a half-hour with him, and you'd understand why so many high school kids want to play for him. He has charm, wit, smarts, the whole package.

He's not always out looking for the next great opportunity, the next contract. His deals get done quickly and quietly. His mentor, Steve Spurrier, taught him well. His dad, also a coach, raised him right.

He gets more job offers than you'll ever know. Recently, after one job was supposedly filled, Stoops was approached a second time. ''Just say the word,'' he was told, ''and we'll get out of the other deal.'' Stoops again declined.

Stoops could have played games this week after Bill Parcells quit. Jerry Jones almost certainly would have spoken to him. On Tuesday, though, Stoops announced he'd be staying at OU.

"To end speculation here in the heart of recruiting I want to make it clear that I am not interested in any other coaching positions at this time,'' he said in a statement. ''I am too excited about our future at Oklahoma and the program we're continuing to build."

He has been at OU eight seasons. OU has been the nation's winningest program during that time. He's 86-19 overall and has won the Big 12 four times. He has won one national championship and played for two others. He's the best, period.

Tight end Dallas Clark, forgotten threat



January 24, 2007

"This may be a better offense than what we had in Buffalo because we have Dallas Clark, who really is a Pro Bowl-caliber tight end," Polian told radio listeners Monday night.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Donte Whitner named to PFW All-Rookie Team



January 22, 2007

Rookie Class Heralded for Quality and Quantity



Clark has key catches in rally



By Jeff Rabjohns
January 22, 2007

Peyton Manning spread the ball around, hitting nine different receivers against the Patriots on Sunday evening.

Two of the biggest catches in the rally that lifted the Colts past the Patriots 38-34 in the AFC Championship were made by tight ends Dallas Clark and Bryan Fletcher.

Clark had a 23-yard catch on the touchdown drive that tied the score at 28. He also had a 52-yard reception to start the drive that led to a field goal to tie the score at 31.

Fletcher's only catch of the game went for 32 yards and gave the Colts a first down on the Patriots' 37 on the game-winning drive. Four plays later, rookie Joseph Addai scored from the 3 to put the Colts up 38-34 with a minute left.

"On my particular catch, I was one-on-one with a linebacker. Me and Peyton communicated that he wanted me to take a shot on the one-on-one, and Peyton made a great throw," Fletcher said.

Clark continued as the Colts' leading receiver in the playoffs. He had six catches for 137 yards Sunday, giving him team highs in catches (17) and receiving yards (281) in the three playoff games.

"This is incredible for us, not just for me and Dallas but for the entire organization," Fletcher said. "This is the first time the Indianapolis Colts are going to the Super Bowl, and for Peyton and coach (Tony) Dungy to get over the hump, I'm extremely happy for them, given all the criticism they've taken, people saying they choke and things of that nature.

"To come back and win it in this fashion, for Peyton to have a last-second drive to get the monkey off his back is just incredible."

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Clark is a key to Colts' offense



By Rich Garven
January 21, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS— The Colts lost four games this season, three of them when tight end Dallas Clark was sidelined.

For all the talk about what safety Bob Sanders means to the defense, it’s abundantly clear Clark is every bit as important to the Peyton Manning-led offense as Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Joseph Addai.

The Patriots will get a second firsthand look at Clark tonight when they take on the Colts for the AFC Championship.

“Dallas makes a difference for us because he’s so versatile,” coach Tony Dungy said. “He can do a lot of things. We can have him in the lineup and play a three-wide receiver type of game or a two-tight end type of game. He can catch the ball and block at the point of attack. He helps us tremendously.”

Clark missed four games in December because of a knee injury. The Colts lost to division rivals Tennessee, Jacksonville and Houston in his absence.

This season, Clark returned in Week 17 to catch four passes for 56 yards against Miami. He was immense in the wild-card win over Kansas City, collecting a career-high nine receptions for 109 yards.

The 6-foot-3, 252-pound Clark had two receptions for 41 yards last week against Baltimore. He leads the Colts with 11 postseason receptions and is averaging a healthy 13 yards a catch

Of Clark’s 30 receptions during the season, eight went for at least 23 yards. He has caught passes of 21 and 27 yards in the playoffs..


Those are playmaker numbers, not that Clark considers himself to be one.

“I’d like to be involved in the game plan and just making some plays out there and helping the team move the chains, score points, whatever,” he said. “So, it would definitely be a fun situation, but a difference-maker? I don’t know. I’m just excited to be healthy and being able to play in this game.”

The Patriots have had their problems in the past covering tight ends. Keeping Clark under wraps is definitely one of their goals tonight.

“One of the missions is trying to stop that guy right there,” defensive end Ty Warren said. “I mean he’s an awesome player. He’s very athletic. He’s almost like another receiver out there in a sense, the way he runs his routes and gets open and catches the ball and runs after the catch.”

Clark caught two passes for 35 yards in a 27-20 win over the Patriots in November.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Kampman makes all-NFC team



January 18, 2007

Wide receiver Donald Driver and defensive end Aaron Kampman, the Green Bay Packers' two representatives on the Pro Bowl team, also are the team's only choices on the all-National Football Conference team.

The selections were made by writers and editors at Pro Football Weekly as well as members of the Pro Football Writers of America.

Driver finished second in the NFC in receiving yards with 1,295 yards. He ranked third in receptions with 92.

Driver is the first Packers wide receiver to make the PFW all-NFC team since Sterling Sharpe in 1993.

Kampman led the NFC in sacks with 15 1/2.

Other than Reggie White, who made it in 1993 and '95, Kampman is the only Packers' defensive end to be selected first team all-NFC since 1970.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Whitner Rookie of the Year



By Chris Brown
January 17, 2007

"The Bills reached with both of their first-round picks. They could have traded back a few spots to accumulate more choices and still drafted Whitner."
-Charles Robinson - Yahoo Sports

They overreached by taking Ohio State safety Donte Whitner at No. 8 overall, when they could have traded down and still gotten him.
-Ron Borges - MSNBC.com

"Overall, the Bills reached on both of their first-round picks."
-Mel Kiper - ESPN

These comments no doubt revive your memories of the barrage of criticism Buffalo's front office and scouting department received shortly after their 2006 draft class was assembled. Most of the NFL draft gurus took umbrage with the choices the Bills made in the first round, most notably top pick Donte Whitner.
Whitner heard the talk that he was a reach and wasn't shy about responding to it.

"The only reason people say they don't think I should have been the number eight pick is because a lot of those guys don't really know what I can do on the football field," said Whitner shortly after the draft. "They just know what they hear and haven't really watched me on film. They don't know what type of person or player I am. After the season we'll see what guys they say were reaches and what guys they say were busts."

Now almost a year later the comments of the so-called draft experts ring a bit hollow, and Whitner's seem almost prophetic. Appearing in 15 games and making 14 starts Whitner stepped onto the field and contributed immediately in 2006 and never looked back.


In his first NFL game he made a potential game-changing fourth quarter interception on a pass from Tom Brady and returned it for what likely would have been a game-clinching touchdown. But it was called back on a controversial block in the back penalty.

When the season was over Whitner was the team's second leading tackler (107) and contributed five pass breakups along with that interception in week one.

Buffalo's coaching staff knew there was a possibility that they would have to rely on a good number of players from the 2006 draft class early and Whitner was the linchpin. They also prepared themselves for a lot of growing pains which often come with young players.

Though there were some areas of his game that lapsed at times, overall Whitner was a solid player in Buffalo's secondary.

"I think Donte had to fit into our plans early, but he came through and did a nice job for us." said defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.

"He's talented, he's fast," said head coach Dick Jauron. "He likes to play the game and he'll hit you. Those are all things that translate well to our sport. He's still learning how to play, but one of the reasons we did like him is because he likes football. He likes to talk about football, look at it, study it and he likes to play. He's going to work out well for us because I see him improving all the time."

And Bills fans saw it too which is why he is their Rookie of the Year.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Clark's versatility will test Ravens



January 12, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS — Dallas Clark describes himself as just another cog in the Indianapolis Colts' offense, no more important than anyone else.

Statistics say otherwise.

With the versatile tight end in the lineup, the Colts are 12-1 and average 28 points per game. Without him, they are 1-3 and score 23 points a contest.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

There’s no time like present for Krenzel



National title-winning QB treasures his family, faith as football sits on hold

January 03, 2007

Dennis Fiely

Too young for nostalgia, Craig Krenzel has little interest in reliving his glory days. Four years ago, the quarterback led Ohio State University to the school’s most recent national championship — its first in 34 years.

Yet there is no evidence of his accomplishment, or of his stellar collegiate career, in his four-bedroom Delaware County home.

"It’s all in storage," Krenzel said of the hardware he accumulated during 27 games (a 24-3 record) as a Buckeye starter.

Although he still harbors aspirations of returning to professional football, the 25-year-old husband and father is of the moment.

A sign in his kitchen summarizes his priorities simply: "Faith, family and friends."

He has not seen a replay of the Buckeyes’ 31-24 national-title victory over Miami in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, in which he was named the most valuable player.

"I tried to watch it with some of the guys a couple of weeks after the game, but I didn’t pay much attention to it," he said. "We ended up playing cards and hanging out."

At Ohio State, Krenzel is neither gone nor forgotten.

He played with the 17 fifthyear seniors on the 2006 team "and took them to the promised land," head coach Jim Tressel said.

Tressel named Krenzel honorary captain for this season’s Cincinnati game and confirmed that his old quarterback has studied game film with current quarterback Troy Smith.

Krenzel, typically, downplayed his contribution.

"It’s not worth mentioning," he said. "Troy has done it on his own."

Yet nobody is rooting harder than Krenzel for Smith and his Buckeye teammates to beat Florida for the national title Monday night.

Craig Krenzel, who led OSU to the national title in 2003, relishes family time with his wife, Beth, and their 11-month-old son, Brayden, in Delaware County.

"I hope they win it again this year so Troy can have what I have, and I can sit back with my wife and raise my family," said Krenzel, uncomfortable with the public attention he continues to receive.

His glory days are now.

"I wake up every day and thank the Lord for all he has given me," Krenzel said.

He shares a comfortable suburban life with his wife, college sweetheart Beth (Barr) of Dublin, and their 11-monthold son, Brayden.

An OSU graduate in molecular genetics who won the 2003 Draddy Award as college football’s premier studentathlete, Krenzel bypassed medical school to fall in line with other ex-Buckeyes.

He recently joined the realestate firm of Crawford Hoying (co-owned by Bobby Hoying, another former OSU quarterback and Draddy winner) and signed an endorsement deal with Buckeye Nissan.

He also is finishing his first year as a college-football analyst for WTVN (610 AM).

"He’s a real workingman now," his wife said.

Krenzel’s decision not to enroll in medical school was a bit of a disappointment to his father.

"It came as a surprise," said Allen Krenzel, a retired accountant and math teacher. "I started thinking, ‘I hope this is not a great mind going to waste.’ I thought maybe he could achieve something in medicine that hadn’t been achieved yet."

The experiences of older brother Brian, a fourth-year resident in orthopedic surgery at Duke University Medical Center, helped direct Craig’s career path.

"If he went to med school, he’d be in his 30s when he finished and be looking at five more years of training," Brian Krenzel said. "Craig wants to have more children, and I don’t think he wants to be away from his family for that extent."

Besides, football still beckons.

Krenzel works daily with a physical therapist at OSU, rehabilitating a surgically reconstructed right elbow injured last year while training with the Cincinnati Bengals.

He originally was drafted in 2004 by the Chicago Bears, winning his first three games as a starter before an ankle injury ended his season.

His future in the National Football League "depends on how my rehab goes," Krenzel said.

Even if it goes well, he acknowledged, "there may be no interest in me."

"I still want to win a Super Bowl and be a Hall of Famer, but I am preparing for never being able to play again. I am moving on with my life. I don’t want to be sitting here a year from now trying to figure out what to do if I can’t play football."

John Cooper, a Bengals consultant and the OSU coach who recruited Krenzel out of Henry Ford II High School in Sterling Heights, Mich., thinks a healthy Krenzel can succeed in the NFL.

"I wonder why he isn’t still playing for the Bears," Cooper said. "It looks to me like they could use a quarterback."

Regardless, Buckeye fans have enshrined Krenzel as a legend. They lined up at Buckeye Nissan last month to score his signature on Krenzel jerseys, dolls and magazine covers.

"You can mention his name with Janowicz, Cassady, Kern and Griffin," said Jeff Hohenbrink, 31, of Galena, one of the recent autograph-seekers. "Most people would kill for his combination of intelligence and athletic ability."

These days, Krenzel keeps the wins and losses in perspective.

Fans who can’t are sources of consternation for him.

"When I meet a middle-aged man who thanks me, in front of his 7-year-old son, for the greatest night of his life, I wonder what message that child is receiving. The boy might be thinking, ‘What about the day we went fishing together or the day you and Mommy got married?’ "

Krenzel and Smith arrived at the same destination in the Arizona desert through drastically different routes.

Smith was raised in the inner city by a single mother and, for a time, foster parents, but Krenzel grew up in a middle-class Detroit suburb with a stay-at-home mother.

"We lived in a Colonialstyled house, had our own bedrooms, 2 1 /2 baths and two cars in the garage," Brian Krenzel said.

Allen and Debbie Krenzel defined family values by staying actively involved in the lives of their three children, including daughter Krysten, born between the boys.

"I see these kids now who live in $500,000 homes and drive brand-new cars and wonder, ‘Where are their parents?’ " said Mrs. Krenzel, a support-staff employee at Eisenhower High School in Shelby Township, Mich.

"How did they miss so much of their children’s lives, and why are their children such monsters? "

Immediately after Craig’s high-school games on Fridays, the Krenzels typically packed their car and drove all night — more than 700 miles — to watch Brian play football on Saturday afternoons for Duke University in Durham, N.C.

Krenzel’s devotion to family surfaced at Ohio State when he missed the San Jose State game (rescheduled in 2001 from Sept. 15 to Oct. 20 after the terrorist attack) to attend his sister’s wedding, which had been planned.

"There was no question in his mind that he was supposed to be there," Brian Krenzel said.

With his near-photographic memory, Craig Krenzel breezed through high school an A student and managed the rigors of football and molecular genetics in college.

"The way his mind works is unbelievable," Beth Krenzel said. "We are hoping the kids get his brains."

The news media regularly portrayed Krenzel as the Buckeyes’ team "braniac," sometimes at the expense of his athletic ability.

"I loved it," he said, "because it brought positive attention to the team, the university and college football in general.

"How often do you hear about the academic successes of a football team? All you hear about are arrests, drug tests and suspensions."

At Crawford Hoying, Krenzel has proved to be a quick study in crunching numbers and analyzing deals.

"He’s a natural," said company founder Brent Crawford, whose stable of ex-Buckeye athletes includes Greg Frey, Rick Smith and Brad Hosket. "We have been talking to him about coming here for a year.

"The competitive edge from athletes is a huge asset for us, and his math background in science brings a lot to the table," Crawford continued. "Our business is all about numbers and making money."

More surprising is Krenzel’s work at WTVN, given his disdain for a sports media that he says is too negative.

Krenzel once told a Dispatch sportswriter that he had "higher aspirations" than broadcasting.

"No way would he ever criticize a player, but he is not afraid to speak his mind," WTVN sports director Matt McCoy said. "As much love as he has for Tressel, I was especially impressed when he criticized the game plan in the second half of the Illinois game."

Krenzel was a multisport star at Henry Ford II High, where his number was retired last year on "Craig Krenzel Night." His high-school and college football jerseys hang in the school gym.

"He is the most honored athlete to come out of our school by far," said Jim Barker, his basketball coach at Ford.

Given his youth, Krenzel is what mystics might call an "old soul" — mature beyond his years.

"Craig is not the typical 25-year-old," his mother said. "Most of his friends aren’t even married yet. He is very serious these days."

Active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and other faith-based groups, Krenzel, a Roman Catholic, has a squeaky-clean reputation.

"He was a typical teenager, definitely no angel in high school," said Barker, who also was Krenzel’s health and physical-education teacher. "He never got into serious trouble; it was nickel-and-dime stuff.

"But he loved to have fun in class. I don’t know if he was ever academically challenged in high school."

His demeanor changed during college.

"He became more guarded," his brother said. "There are three people in Ohio under constant scrutiny: the governor, the Ohio State football coach and the Ohio State quarterback, and I’m not sure if they’re in that order."

Krenzel’s lighter side emerges when he is playing with his son; bantering with colleague Earle Bruce, the former OSU coach, on the air; or relaxing privately with friends.

The "old soul" maintains friendships on equal footing with elders such as Barker; his high-school football coach Terry Copacia; and 1968 OSU championship quarterback Rex Kern, with whom Krenzel often is compared.

"To me, his legacy is a little bit like Rex Kern," Tressel said. "Neither of them have a bunch of records, but they had the things that really make a quarterback."

Krenzel frequently talks to his mentors by phone. Barker and Copacia attended his wedding in May 2004.

Kern became something of a good-luck charm for Krenzel during Krenzel’s rookie year in the NFL.

"Every time I called him, he moved up the depth chart for the Bears," Kern said. "Before long he was starting, and his first pass for a starter went for a touchdown."

Kern and Krenzel commissioned a limited-edition print of the two championship quarterbacks together to benefit Miracle for Madison, Krenzel’s pet charity.

Named after 9-year-old Madison Reed, of Dublin, the organization raises research money for spinal muscular atrophy, the No. 1 genetic killer for children younger than 2.

"I couldn’t ask for a better friend for our cause," said Dublin Coffman High School teacher Carl Reed, Madison’s father. "He’s been to all of our events, and one day he invited me over to his house to go through some of his stuff for auction."

Krenzel has talked to his wife about taking advantage of his local fame to establish a charitable foundation, but that’s all part of a future that remains both on track and uncertain.

Krenzel described two guiding principles in his life: "to consider the worst-case scenario of any situation or decision, and to be able to adjust on the fly."

They are exactly the philosophies by which he played cautious, mistake-free football — emphatically punctuated by his ability to improvise for the big play.

"Nobody converted more third and fourth downs than Craig Krenzel," Cooper said. "All he did was win games."

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