Gino Crump burned hot and bright during his first two training camps with the Arizona Wildcats. Then, perhaps inevitably, he'd fade.
"He's always flashed," wide receivers coach David Nichol said. "Being consistent has always been his problem. He's doing that so far in this camp, no doubt."
In fact, Crump may be the most valuable player of his third and final collegiate camp. The 6-foot-2-inch, 210-pound wide receiver has peppered his practices with both circus catches and an uncommon consistency. Crump led all UA receivers with five catches for 53 yards in Saturday's scrimmage at Fort Huachuca, though the Wildcats played without four of their five best receivers.
Whether Crump's hot camp will lead to more playing time this fall is anyone's guess. The UA will open its season Sept. 3 boasting at least eight accomplished receivers, with Juron Criner and University of Texas transfer Dan Buckner leading the way. David Douglas, David Roberts, Terrence Miller and Richard Morrison all have better collegiate resumes than Crump, who caught four passes for 39 yards in 2010. A pair of redshirt freshman receivers, Tyler Slavin and Austin Hill, have had impressive camps; the same goes for true freshman Patrick Onwuasor.
Crump, 23, said he's "been making more of a concerted effort" to get the little things right, with hopes of cracking the rotation. Crump's sheer athleticism made him a standout at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C., and at Glendale Community College, where he played before enrolling at West Virginia in 2008. Crump left the Mountaineers for the UA after one season and, after sitting out the 2009 season due to NCAA transfer rules, is in his second full season as an eligible player.
Crump has admittedly matured while at the UA, raising his grades - he's a political science major - and perfecting technique. Crump spent the offseason working on strengthening his hands, a drill that should help him hang on to passes thrown his way.
"I have to make sure whenever the ball is up in the air, it's going to be my ball - or nobody's catching it," he said.
On the field, Crump is one of the Wildcats' toughest competitors. Physical and aggressive, he's brought a spark to one of the team's most accomplished position groups.
Hopefully, Crump says, he has enough to stand out.
"We have a deep corps, and I want to be a part of it," he said. "I want to make sure the coaches see what I'm doing here. Most of all, I want everyone to respect me - that's a big thing for me.
"Hopefully, all of my work pays off."
Coming Aug. 28
The Star's 2011 college football preview section.
• Season opener: Sept. 3 vs. NAU, 7 p.m. at Arizona Stadium