Cory’s Corner: James Starks better look out for John Crockett

North Dakota State running back John Crockett made a great choice by picking the Packers as an undrafted rookie free agent.

And no, it’s not because he doesn’t immediately need a new wardrobe since the yellow and green of the Bison are eerily similar to the green and gold of the Packers.

“I really truly feel like I’m in the best place for me,” Crockett said after the Rookie Orientation Camp practice. “All they talk about is winning. And that’s what I’ve always been accustomed to and that’s what we talk about. The mindset of a champion is still the same.”

He’s right. The shifty running back has racked up a 44-2 record and three Division I Football Championship Subdivision national titles. The kid that is No. 2 on the NDSU all-time rushing list, in only two-and-a-half years mind you, knows the winning formula and more importantly, doesn’t let complacency creep in after helping NDSU win a title in his sophomore season.

The one knock on Crockett is because of the FCS. Most teams avoided him at all costs just because they didn’t think his level of competition was hardy enough to compete at the pro level.

He was so good that in 2013, he was the No. 2 running back on his own team, yet was still fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference and 19th in the NCAA with 1,277 rushing yards. He even sports the nickname ‘Tazmanian devil’ because of his never-ending movement.

Everybody wants to win. It obviously helps if you have a pretty good understanding of how that happens. And it’s that knowledge, combined with the small chip on his shoulder that will only increase over time which will lead him to being a contributor.

Another drawback on Crockett is that he runs upright, which makes it easier for defenses to take their shots. Crockett does have a tendency to run upright, but that didn’t stop Darrell Thompson from getting drafted in the first round.

Crockett had to sleep on various couches in high school because his mom had to deal with an emotional problem that was linked to stress.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for all the people who went out of their way to help me at Totino-Grace (High School),’’ Crockett said. “I also wouldn’t be where I am today without one big thing in my favor: a hunger to succeed.”

Crockett knows where he’s been. He knows that this is his shot and if he’s going to do anything as a pro, it has to happen now.

Judging from his past failures and how he quickly spun those into successes, I’m sure that Crocket doesn’t need a reminder as to how important the next step is.

James Starks better start looking over his shoulder. Because an undrafted rookie free agent that has a smooth combination of confidence and grittiness is every coach’s dream.




Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn


14 thoughts on “Cory’s Corner: James Starks better look out for John Crockett

  1. I don’t think Starks has much to worry about. He’s a lock to make the team if he’s healthy.

    1. Unfortunately Starks is made out of glass. If he was more durable he would be an animal.

      1. He was pretty durable last season I believe. He is kind of like Mike Neal but if these players put a couple years together where they are not missing games than you kind of forget about their past health issues. Neal and Starks got off to rough starts health wise but were able to finally get it together. Justin Harrel wasn’t so lucky. Ted

  2. I don’t think Starks has much to worry about, this year, either, and Starks has break away speed. Crockett ran a 4.62, while Starks ran a 4.50 in 2010 at the combine. However, Starks is lousy in pass protection and isn’t very good as a receiver. Crockett does both well, though he needs to get stronger. Vision looked good to me, but CBS wrote that while he is patient, he sometimes waits too long for his blocks to develop. Crockett’s 1.54 second 10-yard dash is very good and shows good burst. Crockett’s 125 inch broad jump (the measurable Mike Reuter points to as predictive of success) is excellent. Looks like he could function as a third down back, but he has always been a workhorse, and has a vivacious personality. He does not look like the change of pace back that DuJuan Harris was supposed to be.

    1. I think DuJuan Harris is still better than this Crockett and I think they found their third down running back in Montgomery from Stanford if Lacy can’t go. Crockett is a good candidate for the practice squad. Remember, they still have Rajon Neal who had a nice preseason. I think people love Crockett because his name is Crockett. They think of Davey Crockett. Would be cool if he was distant relation. Just my opinion.

  3. We need a third running back and Starks will be 30 just after the next Super Bowl. I like Starks but if Crockett is good then James S. may be gone. Kuhn’s replacement was just drafted and John will be 33 as the season starts This year maybe the last as Packers for them both. I will miss them both. Don’t forget how valuable Starks was in the Super Bowl Year in 2010-2011 when he had to come in as the starter and did great.
    Both Crockett and Ripkowski will make the team one way or the other.
    It is a sport for the young mostly. Guys in the 30’s in the NFL are amazing to me especially at RB where they really get punished.
    60 years ago I went to my first Packer game and first Milwaukee Braves game.. Time flies.

    1. I do agree that this is probably Starks’ last year but he’s lock for this season. As Big T says, he’s an animal when he’s healthy. He reminds me of a poor man’s Adrian Peterson minus the whoopin’.

  4. “He was so good that in 2013, he was the No. 2 running back on his own team.”

    Um, OK. Be afraid, James Starks. Be very afraid.

      1. lol.. Exactly. I don’t think The Buffalo Bruiser has anything to worry about.

      2. Ndsu often likes run two running backs evenly. The other back (oujuri) was the senior of the two, but Crockett always stood out as having higher potential. Oujuri, also good, is currently trying to latch on to a cfl team. As a senior Crockett dominated the FCS level.

  5. Starks is a great #2 option and change of pace from Eddie Lacy. I believe he had a fantastic yards per carry average he just never seemed to get a chance to play. When he did, I remember many 20 yard plus runs being peeled off. I can’t think of a better #2 back with the Packers since the Bennett / Levens combination for a couple of years in the mid 90’s. I actually would like to see more of him so we don’t run Lacy into the ground.

  6. I was surprised the Packers did not address the RB position in the draft. With DuJuan Harris gone, the often-injured Starks teetering on 30 and Eddie Lacy’s asthma and 2 concussions, the position is solid, but needs help.

    Crockett sounds like he could be a steal. I don’t care about the “running upright” criticism. Starks runs upright and when healthy, has been a nice change of pace back for the Packers.

    I still hope Crockett or someone else can be the Scatback that Jonathan Franklin looked like he’d be. Franklin had a striking resemblance to Warrick Dunn.

    1. Crockett may very well make the team, but he’s nothing like a “scatback.” If anything, he’s a bruiser at almost 220 lbs, and pretty slow.

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