Cranford regroups after word of Buccaneers' future demise

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   Sometimes you have to make the best out of a bad situation, and that's exactly what East Tennessee State football player Adam Cranford is doing.
   The former Johnson County standout and the rest of the Buccaneers will be playing in the school's last year of football this fall after recently learning that the program was going to be cut out due to budget concerns.
   Cranford, who is a reserve tight end for the Bucs, is just now getting over the initial shock of finding out there wouldn't be any more football in the Mini-Dome after November.
   "I believe it came as a surprise to everybody," Cranford said. "Everybody is shocked. I think it just pushed everybody to step up their training this summer.
   "I really couldn't believe it. I didn't know what to think. I was down for a few days, but now I realize that I have to step it up and take my game to another level."
   ETSU just went through spring practice, and actually found out that the program was going to shut down just a few days after drills were over with.
   Cranford says he was very upset about the situation, but head coach Paul Hamilton did a good job of encouraging him and the other players on the team.
   "It brought down the morale of the team," Cranford said. "Coach told us to keep our heads up, and to go out there and give it a full go with nothing to lose."
   Cranford, who is a psychology major, puts his education first. That means he understands the higher education crisis in the state of Tennessee.
   At first, Cranford didn't understand the decision made by ETSU president Dr. Paul Stanton to cut out the program. But after thinking about it, those hard feelings are now gone.
   "At first I had hard feelings," Cranford said. "But I know the situation the state is in. I'm sorry it had to happen to the football team, and the marching band, too. But it might work out for the better as far as injuries."
   After a stellar career as a Longhorn, Cranford started his college career at Mars Hill before transferring to ETSU as a walk-on.
   Cranford thought it was a great decision to transfer, but had second thoughts after the announcement came down to drop football.
   Now that he's had a few weeks to ponder it, Cranford doesn't have any regrets.
   "I probably had a better chance to play and start at Mars Hill, but there's a better feel here," Cranford said. "The education is better up here, and that's what it comes down to in the end."
   Even though he will have more eligibility after this year, Cranford is pretty sure he will end his football career as a Buccaneer.
   Cranford hopes it's a successful finish. He feels like he can contribute more this year in the Buccaneer offense.
   "The coaching staff liked what they saw in spring practice," Cranford said. "They might throw me into some special teams and in some plays as well. I'll be happy with that."
   Cranford may not be happy with the overall situation, but it's something he's accepted.
   Now, he's ready to go out with a bang.
   "I was down and disappointed for a couple of days, but there's not much I can do about it," Cranford said. "I'm going to work my hardest. There's no point in beating yourself about it."