Vista Murrieta's Cravens poised for great season
Someone should put a GPS device in the helmet of Su'a Cravens of Vista Murrieta to track his movements on the football field, just to prove he really doesn't carry the water bottles or take a moment to shoot video on the sideline between his other responsibilities.
"I think I'm best at defense rather than offense, but I can't really tell you what position I'm best at," Cravens said. "Some people say I'm a great safety. Some people say I'm a great linebacker. It's really for the coaches to decide where they're going to put me."
His main position for Vista Murrieta is linebacker, but it will be up to USC Coach Lane Kiffin to offer a vision for his future. Cravens has committed to play for the Trojans.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior was The Times' player of the year as a junior, and the big question for 2012 is what can he do for an encore after scoring 20 touchdowns, rushing for 673 yards and making 96 tackles and 11 sacks?
What's clear is that Cravens has not reached his peak form. In fact, he's just getting started.
"I remember playing with 9- and 10-year-olds," he said. "I was heavy for my age. The first day we had hitting drills, and I went out there and laid one of the older guys on his back. From then, I really liked the sport."
Coach Coley Candaele is thinking long and hard about how to feature Cravens' many athletic gifts. Cravens can unleash a burst of speed with the blink of an eye and possesses so much energy and enthusiasm he could be a member of the pep squad if he had any spare time.
"Coach Candaele really lets me explore my talents and puts me all over the field, so if I'm blocking for one of my teammates, tackling a guy or scoring a touchdown, it's fun no matter what I'm doing," he said.
Candaele was careful how he used Cravens during the regular season last year, making sure he was healthy for the playoffs, and it led to an Inland Division championship. How Candaele uses Cravens this season will be one of the story lines of 2012.
When Cravens is turned loose, he's capable of producing highlight-reel moments play after play. There might be a sack, followed by a pass breakup, followed by a block on a punt return. And that's only reflecting on Cravens' defensive contributions. He also plays running back and receiver.
"As a running back, he's the kind of kid you definitely want because he brings so much energy to the game and is also a great playmaker," Candaele said.
As if his performances aren't valuable enough, Cravens' positive, team-first attitude rubs off on teammates and adds another layer of intrigue for a player who continues to build upon a reputation of versatility and excellence.
"I'd play any position you put me," Cravens said.
Asked what position Cravens will play in college, Candaele said, "It depends what they want out of that kid. The kid is going to give you everything he has. He's a special kid. He's unique in terms of his abilities."
And what's the best part of playing football for Cravens?
"It's hearing the crowd roar and getting that tingling when you're excited playing in a championship game," he said. "It's hearing the crowd go crazy and your family is there watching you."