The 4 1/2 years he has spent in College Park have been a steady but enlightening path for Crummey, who was raised in the small town of Van Wert, Ohio (population 10,000). Physically, he molded himself into a gifted and powerful lineman, quick off the ball and capable of playing multiple positions. A year from now, assuming he fully recovers, he'll very likely be suiting up somewhere in the NFL. But the more interesting transformation has been that of Andrew Crummey, the intellectual.
Their debates - with Crummey often taking the conservative viewpoint and Foxworth the liberal one - became inspiring locker room theater for the Terrapins. And they also began to change the way Crummey, a government and politics and geography major, viewed his future.
He didn't want to be defined by one particular political ideology. He would absorb everything - including books such as the recent Are we Rome? The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America by Cullen Murphy - and continue to engage anyone willing to share his opinion. Foxworth graduated, but the debates, dubbed "Crummey Rants" by his teammates, have continued.
"I had to accept the fact that I don't know some things," Crummey said. "When [Foxworth] and I had our original discussion, I had just come off reading a book [What's So Great about America by Dinesh D'Souza] that made an argument I really liked. The arguments don't make as much sense to me now as they did then. But that's the same with college football. You get ideas, you bounce them off people and you see the reality of how things really are."
Change of ideasThat education has been a continuous process, and Crummey's views often defy categorization, which is just the way he likes it.
"My freshman year, we had a big debate in my English class about Bill Clinton," junior tackle Jaimie Thomas said. "I'm a Clinton fan, and Crummey kind of wasn't. We had some heated debates about why he was a good president or why he [stunk] as president."
But ask Crummey whom he most admires in politics and he furrows his brow for a moment, then comes up with a somewhat surprising answer: Ralph Nader.
"I watched that documentary about him recently, An Unreasonable Man," Crummey said. "They showed a list of all his accomplishments, the things he's successfully lobbied for, and it rivals that of any politician in the history of our country. The Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Safety in Cars Act, FDA warnings on prescription drugs, surgeon general warnings - all those things are him. You would never really want to be him, because the documentary portrays him as absolutely obsessed with what he does, to the point where he has no life. But his dedication really impressed me."
Though Crummey now considers himself a moderate who leans slightly to the left, he found himself feeling mildly frustrated two years ago during his internship with Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, a Democrat who represents the state's 5th District. The other interns in the office were so wrapped up in partisanship, Crummey says, they were unwilling to listen to any views that conflicted with their own.
"One day I was working, and someone came in the office and says, 'I didn't know what to do, I was just on the elevator with three Republican interns!'" Crummey said. "I was like, 'So what? They're still people! It's not like they're your enemies. Relax.'"
In some ways, football, as much as anything in the classroom, has helped shape the leader and politician Crummey hopes to become.
"I think that there is no more integrated place in the country than a college football locker room," Crummey said. "You literally come in, and you see dumb people, smart people, reliable people and unreliable people. And it transcends race lines. It transcends class lines. It really does.
"You'll see guys come in, and your preconceived idea is 'That guy will never play.' Turns out, he goes on the football field, and he produces. He's focused, he's confident, he's ready. Then you'll see someone who looks good, he's always going on about how great he is, and he can't do a thing on the field. What you find out is, it doesn't matter what race or color or class you are. It matters what kind of character you have."
For now, though, Crummey's leadership education will focus more on books than clashes with defensive tackles. When he arrived at Maryland's football complex last week for a brief interview, his unfamiliarity with his crutches didn't stop him from carrying a book under his arm: Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda by military historian John Keegan. It is a book that explains how nations often learn more from their setbacks than they do from their successes in battle.
"I figure now is as good a time as any to read it," Crummey said.
He teeters for a moment on unsteady crutches. But with book in hand, he grins as he moves in the direction of the door.