INDIANAPOLIS — The proverbial chip on the shoulder that Scott Crichton used to carry around isn’t as heavy as the weight of responsibility he now feels for his family.
There was a time when the graduate of Foss High School was driven primarily to prove wrong those who doubted he could play big-time college football, such as the coaches at the University of Washington, who didn’t offer him a scholarship.
He instead went to Oregon State, one of the few Pac-12 offers he received, where he quickly became a standout defensive lineman in the league, earning all-conference honors each of the past two years.
After his junior season in 2013, having already recorded 22.5 sacks to rank third all-time in Oregon State history, he declared for the NFL draft.
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Like the rest of the record 98 underclassmen who declared, Crichton feels he’s ready for the rigors of the NFL.
He also, though, figured it was time to begin supporting his family.
As he met with media at the NFL combine Sunday, Crichton talked frankly about his family.
His mother, Malama, works two jobs while his father, Lucky, continues to make $10 an hour employed at a warehouse despite walking with an artificial leg, having had his leg amputated a few years ago.
“I did it for my family,’’ Crichton said of deciding to leave early, explaining that he didn’t bother to get a draft estimate from the NFL once he knew he had to get on with making a living. “I love my family. I’ve taken this responsibility to take care of them. My mom works two jobs, and my dad is disabled and still works a job, too.
“They are getting old, and I want them to retire and just stop working. I just did this for my family. I was going to come back to college. But just to see my family struggle — we didn’t have much growing up and to see my family struggle, I wasn’t OK with that. So I had to do something. And this is one of the greatest opportunities for me to take care of my family.’’
An opportunity he hopes to only enhance with a good showing at the combine.
How much impact the combine has on any player’s draft stock is a matter of constant debate — and hard usually to definitively prove. But Crichton, who measured in at 6 feet 3, 273 pounds, is regarded as one player for whom a good performance could make a difference.
Rob Rang, a draft analyst for CBSSports.com and NFLDraftScout.com, said Crichton has a reputation for being a player whose performance outshines his athleticism.
“Frankly, he’s a better football player than he is going to test as an athlete,’’ Rang said. “So if he works out really well here, he is going to turn some heads, because what you see on tape is a guy who is technically sound and plays with his hair on fire, but isn’t necessarily an explosive athlete. So he can do some things to help his cause.’’
Crichton recorded 24 reps in the 225-pound bench press Sunday and will take part in other on-field workouts Monday.
While some regard Crichton as more of a mid-round draftee, Rang said he thinks Crichton could move into the second round depending on how he works out, and that regardless “he is a guy who is going to be successful in the NFL.’’
That’s an assessment few might have seen coming four years ago, when many questioned whether he was good enough to play in the Pac-12, including UW coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff.
Crichton has often said he grew up a UW fan and wanted to go there. But the Huskies, after evaluating him, decided not to offer him a scholarship, something Sarkisian later said was simply “a mistake.’’
Crichton said he never did talk to Sarkisian about not getting more attention from Washington — he said he hasn’t talked to him since attending a Junior Day at UW. But Sunday, he said the Husky assistants he met were “great guys. Unfortunately, I didn’t get an offer.’’
His Husky snub once led Crichton to say “I hate U-dub.”
His college days in the past, though, Crichton has mellowed on that stance, saying Sunday “that situation” isn’t a prime motivator for him.
Instead, his driving force now is even more personal.
“It would just mean so much to me (to be able to use NFL money to support his parents) because my parents have taken care of me since day one,” he said. “To do this for them it’s just, I don’t know, I can’t put it into words.”
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com. On Twitter @bcondotta.