USC’s Cravens stepped it up a notch in spring

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian didn’t pass up many opportunities to praise Su’a Cravens for the spring he was having.

Cravens was, arguably, the MVP of USC’s spring drills, which culminated with the annual spring game last Saturday.

There’s no denying his skills as one of the best all around defenders in college football. His versatility has been seen in his transition from safety to linebacker. The transition has been smooth, in part, because of his incredible football IQ.

However, none of the aforementioned attributes were the root of Sarkisian being so giddy in referencing Cravens.

In fact, it had nothing to do with skill at all.

Cravens sat down with Sarkisian before the beginning of spring practice and expressed his intentions.

"I told (Sarkisian) ‘I’m going to be a new player this year. I’m going to run to the ball and do what I have to do to show you that I’m not just an ability guy. I’m an effort guy as well,’ " Cravens recalled. "I don’t want to be that guy that does one thing and doesn’t do another. I want to be the guys that’s known (for having a) non-stop motor, makes every play he can, and gives his full effort."

Cravens then put those words into action, daily bringing forth tremendous effort.

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"His effort has been contagious," Sarkisian said.

The USC head coach, on multiple occasions during the spring, applauded Cravens for bringing it every day.

Whether he was making a play in the backfield or snagging a pick six or making an one-handed grab for an interception, Cravens’ effort allowed him to step up his playmaking ability a notch.

While Cravens won’t declare himself the MVP of the spring for the Trojans, his head coach has already done enough patting on the back for a strong argument to be made on his behalf, earlier saying he’d be "shocked" if Cravens isn’t a First Team All-American or Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

"Su’a is ridiculously talented, physically," Sarkisian said. "His ability to play, to run to the football whether it’s rushing the quarterback or covering in the back end (has shown).

"He’s putting himself in more positions to make those plays to utilize his athleticism to be the playmaker that we think he can be. And it showed. He just had a fantastic spring."