Q&A with Dane Cruikshank, Arizona Wildcats:
DN: Talk about the transition from the junior college ranks (Citrus College-Glendora, California). You became such a consistent player for the ‘Cats.
Cruikshank: It was easy for me to adapt to it and everything. I had a great coaching staff that helped me out. It wasn’t that big of a difference. There’s a lot of good talent in JUCO that I’ve gone up against that doesn’t get out sometimes just cause they don’t handle their business in school. Luckily for me, I handled my business and actually matured and grew up. I ended up at Arizona and did my thing.
DN: Yeah, one of the big things that stood out not only throughout your career but also out here the in the first day of practice (East-West Shrine practices) is your ability to transition. You have your hips opened to the sidelines and still make the 45-and-90-degree breaks. What do you credit that to? Is it a lot of drill work or is it something that’s just always been natural?
Cruikshank: No, it’s a lot of drill work. I put in a lot of work. Coach Yates (Marcel Yates-2017 Arizona defensive coordinator/cornerbacks coach), Coach Donte Williams (2016 Arizona cornerbacks coach). They both coached me at the University of Arizona. I did a lot of offseason training with them before the season even started, both seasons…my junior season and my senior season. All the work that I put in is actually working out for me. I’m actually transitioning it to the field, just doing my thing out here and just having fun with it.
DN: You had a pretty competitive defensive backfield, in terms of Arizona. (Demetrius) Flannigan-Fowles and some of the other guys. How did you feel about the competition? Did y’all have inner competition on who would make the most plays?
Cruikshank: Yeah, we went at it every day. Every day we came out with a goal. Who is going to come out with the most interceptions, who is going to come out with the most pass deflections, things like that. That just keeps our juices going, you know what I’m saying. That just keeps it more competitive every day at practice. So you’re not slouching around and getting used to everything. We’re competitors man, all those guys.
DN: Looking at some of our notes, against Houston earlier this year. Your tackling coming off the edge, and tackling in general. You had 60 tackles in 2016 and quite a few this year.
DN: 76 this year. So, run support, talk a little bit about that and what that means to you in terms of your game.
Cruikshank: Well I feel like I can play anywhere on the field in the secondary. I just feel like I can just get the job done no matter where you put me at: strong safety, free safety, corner, nickel. So, I’m a physical player. I like to come up and tackle. I’m not afraid to put my nose in the hole and hit someone. I give that credit to my Dad. He made me a rough player growing up.
DN: That’s what up man. What position do you want to play at the next level? What do you think is your best position?
Cruikshank: Cornerback. I feel like corner is just the best position for me. Don’t get me wrong, I feel like I can play anywhere on the field like I said.
DN: If you had to look at one player that you pattern your game after at the next level who would that be?
Cruikshank: Xavier Rhodes (Minnesota Vikings). Guys with longer arms, Marcus Peters (Los Angeles Rams) guys like that. I look at a lot of film on those guys and I just try to take after them.
DN: No doubt man, thanks a lot for your time and good luck the rest of the year and in the NFL Draft.
Cruikshank: Thank you. I appreciate it.
—2018 East-West Shrine practices, West Team, Day 1, DraftNasty staff reports
UPDATE: Cruikshank was selected by the Tennessee Titans in the 5th Round (152nd overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft.