Where are they now?

by Josh Worden Senior Beat Reporter

— Howard Croom: Football tight end, 2006-2009

At OSU: Croom was a consistent force at tight end for OSU as a three-year starter from 2007-2009. The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder had three touchdowns and 188 yards in 2007. He only had 41 yards combined the next two seasons, but found his niche as a blocking tight end especially to open holes for running back Jacquizz Rodgers. He had a career-high five receptions at Arizona State in 2007 and earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors as a senior.

After OSU: Croom followed what he called “the American dream” of playing college football for the Beavers by getting his master’s degree in Public Policy and staying involved in OSU athletics as a graduate assistant in academic advising. He then headed to UC Irvine as the men’s basketball academic advisor before getting the same job for USC’s football and women’s lacrosse team. In addition, he helps coordinate the Career Development program at USC and is a full-time student, getting a doctoral degree in Education.

Croom provides any academic support the USC players need including helping schedule classes, keeping tabs on their progress and one-on-one conversations throughout the season.

Croom was born in Long Beach, Calif. and liked USC growing up, but insists neither his childhood nor his present-day employment status have changed the school closest to his heart.

“Of course Oregon State all day, without a doubt,” he said.

That juxtaposition between rooting for his alma mater and current school came to a head on Croom’s first week at USC, when the Trojan and Beaver football teams played in 2013 in Los Angeles. When USC scored a defensive touchdown, Croom felt out of place surrounded by cheering USC players and staff.

“The sideline was going crazy, everybody was going nuts,” Croom said. “I was like, ‘How am I supposed to high-five somebody about a Beaver pick-six? It was such a crazy feeling.”

Croom was playing for OSU in 2006 and 2008 when his Beaver teams upset the No. 3 and No. 1 Trojans, respectively, in Reser Stadium, and those memories stay fresh in his mind as he lives in Los Angeles today.

“I remember the 2008 Trojans were on the cover of Sports Illustrated. I remember (USC head coach) Pete Carroll saying this was the greatest USC team of all time, the greatest defense of all time. And we beat them,” Croom said. “So there’s a ton of glory and a ton of pride about being at USC, and I feel comfortable engaging in all of it and supporting all of it because I’m like, ‘Let’s just keep pumping USC up, because as much as we got to pump them up, they couldn’t beat us.’”

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