BOISE — Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin said that nothing is given and everything is earned in his program, and right tackle Nick Crabtree knows exactly what that means.
Crabtree came to BSU as a three-star tight end. Now in his fifth year, he made his first start against Air Force, but it wasn't as a tight end. Instead, he started on the offensive line as a right tackle.
“I mean, it was a thrill. I worked a really long time for that opportunity and it felt great to get out there with my teammates," said Crabtree.
“He played good. He’s worked so hard," said BSU offensive line coach Brad Bedell.
The first call he made after his first start was to his family.
"It was a little emotional. I mean, I was just so excited after the game to be able to go home and to call them and talk with them," says Crabtree.
It was a long journey, one where he switched back and forth between positions but also one that included a lot of eating and time in the weight room.
“I jumped up to 7100 calories I think it was when I first switched, and it was a grind getting it done," said Crabtree. "It was a lot of meals spent eating with the weight coaches watching me eat, making sure I was getting all the calories in.”
"Being the fifth-year senior and converting to tight end and getting so much stronger in the weight room, and now he finally hit that weight at 310, and so you really started to see some things come together for him.”
Along with gaining over 65 pounds, Crabtree had to learn a whole new system, which is not an easy task.
“It’s a blast, and it’s something that you don’t realize until you’re in the trenches doing it. But when I first got switched, I was like oh man, what is that like? I’ve never played 0-line," said Crabtree. "But, once you get in there and you get to bang some dudes and the comradery that comes with playing with five guys and communicating with one another, it’s a good time."
Although it wasn't his choice to make the switch, Crabtree didn't hesitate when his coaches asked because he knew that's what his team needed.
"I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself. I just had to change the mindset," he said. "I was never thinking, oh, I should go play tight end or do this. I was like this is what they want from me, and this is what they think I am going to be most successful at, so I am just gonna focus and get it done.”
A commitment Crabtree said that he made when he signed to BSU in high school that no matter what, he'd trust the process and earn a starting spot.
Transferring or quitting was never an option for him.
“I’m excited for him. He has worked so hard," said Bedell. "He deserved the opportunity, and there are some things we have to improve on; nobody played perfect, but it was a good start to the year for Nick.”