Crisanty continues his college football climb
REDLANDS — Brad Crisanty took Chad Hurst’s handoff, turned in behind two blocks and sped for a seven-yard gain against Chapman University on Saturday night.
It was a speck in a career-high 217-yard rushing performance that also included a breathtaking 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against a 4-1 team.
Crisanty, a bruising, quick-footed runner at 6 feet, 220 pounds, has been the featured back at the University of Redlands, which snagged Crisanty after he graduated from Granite Bay High School in 2009.
Crisanty described himself as an “average high school player because I really didn’t start a game until my senior year.”
Someone noticed. Longtime head coach Mike Maynard contacted Crisanty, who had been accepted at state colleges, to inquire about coming to Redlands, located about halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs. Maynard spotted Crisanty on a game video supplied by Granite Bay.
Said Crisanty: “I was looking for a school that had a strong business program. If I also had an option to play football, then great. If not, then I would be OK with that.”
Crisanty, his mother and father flew to Redlands to “check out the college. I realized it had everything I wanted.” Suddenly, the average high school player became a focal point in a college program along with the team’s acclaimed quarterback, Hurst.
Crisanty’s running helped Redlands take a lead and grind out the clock in the final period of a 32-13 victory over Chapman. In one sequence, he sprang for runs of nine, six, eight, seven, 11, minus-4 and a final burst of 36 yards, cutting right to left and shifting the ball from his right hand to his left to set up the clinching touchdown.
“His best quarter is the fourth quarter,” Maynard said.
School first at Redlands
The Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference is made up of eight small programs; no athletic scholarships awarded, no massive TV deals or sponsorships and game crowds of around 1,000. It’s a far cry from the Pac-12.
The price tag at Redlands is roughly $53,000 annually. Student-athletes that attend Redlands are looking far beyond sports.
“(My brothers and sister) all started playing sports at a young age, but there was never any pressure placed on us by our parents,” Crisanty said. “Our family felt that playing youth and high school football was a privilege rather than a lifestyle and an opportunity to learn life lessons like team play, perseverance, work ethic, keeping commitments and setting and working toward goals.”
You won’t find blue-chip athletes that place a priority on sports instead of academics at Redlands.
“Mike Maynard told me an interesting statistic one time,” Redlands President Dr. Ralph Kuncl said. “He said the graduation rate of football players that play all four years at Redlands is 100 percent.”
Maynard said Crisanty is on pace to graduate as part of that “statistic.”
“I still can’t believe that football will be over and I will be graduating in April,” Crisanty said. “It’s a surreal feeling. I had the privilege of going to college — a great college at that — and had the best years of my life with my best friends.”
Career takes off
After racking up eight yards a carry as a Granite Bay senior in 2008, Crisanty’s collegiate career has hit a crescendo at Redlands. He has 754 yards rushing, averaging 125.7 per game, and 10 touchdowns.
Maynard described Crisanty as “bull strong,” said he never stops driving his feet and has the ability to make yards when there is no hole.
“He will rank in my book as one of the two or three best running backs I have ever had the privilege of coaching in 25 years here at Redlands,” Maynard said.
Obrey Brown is a freelance writer based in Southern California. His father, Neal C. Brown, graduated from Roseville High School in 1949.