UW's Frank Crum keeping the chip on his shoulder going into NFL camp

Apr. 30—LARAMIE — Frank Crum expected to hear his name called during last weekend's NFL draft.

The former University of Wyoming offensive tackle was projected as a sixth-round pick on the NFL's website. He was the No. 1 player available at his position on ESPN for the final 79 picks of the draft, but he watched five other offensive tackles get drafted ahead of him.

Crum's name was never called.

His phone rang not long after the final pick of the draft. It didn't stop ringing until he officially signed with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent Saturday night.

"I was anticipating (getting drafted), but I knew there was a chance (that I wouldn't)," Crum told WyoSports on Tuesday. "It's the draft. One move switches everything for everybody. At that point in time, it was like, 'Dang it, I didn't get drafted,' but then the phone calls started rolling in from a good amount of teams, and (Broncos offensive line coach Zach Strief) and (head coach) Sean Payton both called me.

"It wasn't about anything other than the best fit and where I could succeed. They laid it out for me on their vision, and my agent was also working on some things about the best fit and where I'd have the best shot to really make an impact. It came down to Denver."

The 6-foot-7, 315-pound Laramie High graduate endured a roller coaster of emotions this weekend. He earned first team All-Mountain West honors last fall and was named third team All-MW in 2022 by Pro Football Focus.

Crum started 49 games at tackle throughout his six-year career at UW after graduating from LHS in 2018.

"You definitely can't get too into the emotional side of it, because it's so uncertain," Crum said. "It is a tense time (during the draft), and then, once free agency hits, it's a quick process. Teams have to make moves quick.

"It was fast-paced, and it was a lot of different emotions going. But at the end of it all, I was extremely happy with my decision and grateful for the opportunity that the Broncos presented me."

Crum's NFL opportunity keeps him within a modest two-hour drive of his hometown. It also comes with his favorite professional football team growing up.

"Maybe subconsciously, in the back of my head, (being a Broncos fan played a part)," Crum said with a laugh. "I remember I had a little Broncos uniform with a plastic helmet for Halloween one year. Growing up a Broncos fan, I think it'll be pretty dang cool to put the real helmet on and come here in two weekends for rookie mini camp."

Going undrafted may have actually helped Crum on the financial side. He received a $25,000 signing bonus on top of a $250,000 guaranteed salary, according to Mike Klis of 9News. His guaranteed earnings are more than those for sixth- and seventh-round draft picks, Klis said.

"It did (work out) in the end," Crum said. "The dream is to hear your name called (during the draft), but the reality of the situation is: Compared to a late-round pick to where I'm at with the situation, it's not that much different. I still have to go earn my role. In hindsight, it did work out the best it could have for the situation I was in."

Crum was one of four former UW players to sign with NFL teams as undrafted free agents following the draft. He was joined by linebacker Easton Gibbs (Seattle Seahawks), wide receiver Ayir Asante (New York Giants) and tight end Treyton Welch (Cleveland Browns).

Quarterback Andrew Peasley (New York Jets), cornerback Jakorey Hawkins (Minnesota Vikings), tight end Colin O'Brien (Indianapolis Colts) and defensive tackle Cole Godbout (Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans) were all invited to rookie mini camps in May.

"You have a lot of quality guys that have a lot of leadership characteristics leaving Wyoming Cowboy football," Crum said. "That's a testament to those guys' character and what they put on tape. It does mean something to get a shot in the NFL. Not everybody gets the shot.

"Being drafted is one thing, but getting another shot to go out and prove yourself, that's something to hang your hat on, too. I think a lot of these guys are going to impress and find their way onto a team. It's the type of guy that comes out of Wyoming that does that."

Crum's dream growing up was to play for the only four-year university in his home state. He did so for six seasons, going 5-1 in Border War games against Colorado State and 3-1 in bowl games during his college career.

"My time at Wyoming was awesome," Crum said. "I came in there and wasn't probably thought of as a year-one or a year-two starter, but I had a lot of coaches and facilities and resources there, from (former head coach Craig) Bohl to all the other staff that I really gravitated toward. I took it and ran, and I grabbed the opportunity.

"I found my way into a starting role by year two. For me, that was such a blessing to be able to not only be on the team, but to go play for Wyoming. That was my dream as a kid. I knew from there that that wasn't enough. So, I wanted to become the best offensive lineman I could be for the University of Wyoming.

"I wanted to help this state, because it started to click: It isn't just about me and my success here at Wyoming. I'm a local kid that people can relate to and gravitate toward. I wanted to be the best I could be for them, for the team, obviously, and for the state."

Crum will soon suit up for rookie mini camp for the Broncos starting May 10. He'll transition to summer workouts before eventually fighting for a roster spot during fall camp.

He'll take a short break in between to get married to his fiancée, Caitlin Brown, in mid-July.

"It feels great," Crum said. "I'm super excited about this opportunity. I've already been through this. I had to prove myself and earn my keep and seize my opportunities in college. I didn't come in as the highest recruit.

"Now, I'm not coming into the Denver Broncos as a draft pick. But that doesn't define who I am and what I can do and the value that I can bring. I'm excited. Let's do it again."

The biggest thing for Crum's transition to the NFL is maintaining the same mindset Bohl instilled in him with the Cowboys. That mindset is what will allow him to give it his best shot to prove his place with the Broncos this fall.

"I'm in 'Go win the day' mode," Crum said. "I'm in that 1-0 mindset that coach Bohl instilled into us. That can be carried into a lot of different views. My goal is to go 1-0 each and every day and to give it my all in the short run, because that's what matters.

"If you keep stacking up the days, that turns into something. I'm not looking too far ahead. I'm not looking at the next season. I'm looking into being the best I can be for rookie camp before going and dominating this summer program with the Denver Broncos."

Alex Taylor is the assistant editor for WyoSports and covers University of Wyoming athletics. He can be reached at Follow him on X at @alex_m_taylor22.