NC State offensive tackle Rob Crisp thought the Cortisone shot would do the trick.
After breaking his tailbone last year in the fourth quarter of the season opener against Tennessee, Crisp was eager to get back on the field and help the Pack. He did everything asked of him during the rehabilitation process, and was cleared to play the final seven games of the season. Crisp took a Cortisone shot before the game against Maryland, his first game since the injury, but he also got hit with a numbing reality on the first play: he still wasn’t 100 percent.
“I just got put right on my butt,” he said, “right on my tailbone where the injury was.”
Crisp said he never played at full strength after that injury -- until this spring. Crisp is finally healthy and leading an offensive line in desperate need of some experience. With only two starters returning -- Crisp and tackle Tyson Chandler -- there have been some growing pains up front. Not only is NC State trying to learn a new playbook under first-year coach Dave Doeren, but it is also trying to rebuild the offensive line and protect a rookie starting quarterback -- whomever that might be.
“With a whole new coaching staff, everything is completely different, so everybody is doing a great job adjusting to that,” Crisp said. “Being that we only have three guys returning who have played a lot of football, we have a lot of young guys, but those guys are doing a great job. Everyone is learning something new, so it’s not like they’re by themselves in a situation. They’ve grabbed their roles and are doing great.
“I’m sure they’ll be ready,” he said. “Our coaches have been doing a great job getting the team ready and learning new plays. I think they’ll be fine.”
Crisp is determined to do his part to make sure of it.
Of the 16 offensive linemen on the roster, only three are seniors -- Crisp, Duran Christophe, and Isaac Swindell. Christophe moved into the starting lineup in the fifth game last season, but was injured against Virginia and didn’t play in the final four games. Crisp is easily the anchor of the line, and one of the leaders of the offense. He was a highly touted recruit who started to reach his potential in 2011 when he played in every game at right tackle and didn’t allow a sack. The injury last season derailed his career, but he is back on track for his senior season.
His main goal, aside from staying healthy, is simply whatever it takes to help his team win.
“I want to lead the guys in the right way,” he said. “We only have two seniors on the offensive line. A lot of the guys look up to me. I feel like if I do something I shouldn’t be doing, or I don’t work hard in practice, if I don’t come to every meeting, I’m letting those guys down and setting a bad example. It’s not so much about me and my goals in terms of my senior year, it’s really about the team. Whatever I can do to help the team in terms of winning a championship is what’s most important. I just want to go out there and have fun and win a championship, that’s the most important thing.”