Quarterback D.J. Crook (West Barnstable, Mass./Worcester Academy) announced his decision Tuesday to walk-on to Penn State, and NittanyNation recently spoke with him at length about his decision and goals for next season.
The postgraduate student will enroll early and said he'll likely be roommates with fellow walk-on quarterback Austin Whipple, whom he played against earlier this season. Crook applied to Penn State about two weeks ago and earned a preferred walk-on invitation one week ago.
On Monday, he was accepted into Penn State and then turned around and quickly accepted that walk-on invitation.
NittanyNation: You've had quite a journey on your way to Penn State. How did you manage to get to this point?
DJ Crook: It was kind of weird how it ended up. I mean, I'm so glad to be going to Penn State -- it's a place I wanted to go for a long time. But, senior year, I had one offer from Holy Cross, and there was a few things about the school I wasn't interested in, and a couple of people were like, 'You're crazy' because it's a very good school.
So I went to postgrad to get more opportunities. I was looking at Albany, Penn and Dartmouth, but nobody really pulled the trigger. And being able to be a mid-year guy, I know that's a big thing, so I really tried to emphasize that and one week I sent an email to Coach [Charlie] Fisher and told him I was interested in walking on as a mid-year guy. He emailed me back right away, set up the visit to the Wisconsin game, and we kept talking.
NN: You emailed quite a few other coaches, so where were your expectations when you sent Fisher that email?
DC: I mean, it's tough being a kid from Massachusetts, especially Cape Cod. I'm not trying to make myself look sorry or anything, but that's just the way I've seen things go. But I was shopping for at least a response, maybe hopefully get his number or something. But he got back to me right away and was like, 'Well, let's get you to a game,' because they were looking at several walk-on kids. That's when things started rolling.
NN: Did you have any other preferred walk-on offers, and was Penn State kind of the easy choice?
DC: I mentioned it to Delaware, and they said they'd be interested. But, pretty much once I had a good feeling with Coach Fisher, I worked hard on getting this deal done. Penn State was my focus. I really wanted to get it, and I just started working my tail off with the recruiting process and making sure I got phone calls and stuff done as quickly as possible.
I sent a lot of e-mails to a lot of schools trying to get my name out there, but my first visit to Penn State was my sophomore year and then I went to a Michigan State game as a junior and then I did another visit. I also did two camps there. I just went there to kind of look at the school my sophomore year, and I ended up loving it, just loving how the campus is -- and you can't pass up that 108,000-seat stadium and their facilities. Especially this year with Bill O'Brien stepping in, especially with what he did, it just makes me eager to go.
NN: What are your goals for Penn State?
DC: Basically, I'm just going to work as hard as I can and then just see what comes with it. I'm coming in to compete, see where I stand and then try to go from there. I'm glad I got here, and now I got to start thinking about some goals.
A lot of quarterbacks go out there and say they want the starting job. I want that, too, but I'm just not prepared to go there and say that, you know? I'm going to work as hard as I can and help the team and just be proud to play for the Nittany Lions.
NN: What are your strengths, and what weaknesses do you feel you need to improve upon?
DC: We'll start off with strengths. My strengths are I want to win, I want to compete, I want to go 110 percent -- whether it's lifting, practice, games, anything, especially in the classroom. I just want to keep going at it. Another strength I believe I have is my feet are one of the things I'm improving. My highlight films don't really show three-step drops or playaction, but I've been working on them since I was a little kid. I think people will be a little surprise to know I've always been a shotgun thrower ... I think I should be good in that area of mechanics.
What I have to work on is just being able to read defenses. It's a very complex part of the game, and I'm still learning. I'm learning every day and, once you can read a defense, it can make things a lot easier -- and that's one thing I really need to work on. I'm sure working on that with Coach Fisher and Coach [Bill] O'Brien, it's something I'll learn quickly.