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Need a hammer? Lycoming has one

Craig Needhammer needs 1,083 yards to set Lycoming's career rushing record.
Lycoming athletics photo

The details of the story change depending on who you ask, but the key points remain the same.

When Craig Needhammer was a senior at North Penn High School in Lansdale, Pa., Lycoming football coach Mike Clark made the two-and-a-half hour from Williamsport to meet him and get a closer look at him on the football field.

But the first thing Clark got a good look at was Needhammer's wardrobe choice -- pajama pants. Clark recalls a distinct SpongeBob SquarePants design; Needhammer makes no mention of the yellow cartoon sponge.

"I made sure I was comfortable," Needhammer explains. "When he came into school, he thought that was pretty funny."

Of course, looks can be deceiving. If he was wearing pajamas to school, he must have been a lazy slouch? In reality, Needhammer has been an excellent student, scoring a 720 on the math portion of his SAT and pursuing a physics degree in college.

It's the same thing on the football field. At 5-8, 180 pounds, Needhammer looks undersized at running back. But all he's done in his career is set his high school's all-time scoring record and, as of last Saturday, tie Lycoming's all-time record for rushing touchdowns.

"If he's going to do it, he's going to do it as well as he can," Clark said. "He doesn't know any other way. He's awesome."

Needhammer arrived at Lycoming in 2011 as one of seven freshmen running backs joining an already crowded backfield, highlighted by then-junior Parker Showers. He worried he might never see the field, especially early on. That quickly changed.

In the Warriors' second game of the 2011 season against Westminster, Clark called on Needhammer. With Showers sidelined with turf toe and the next two backs on the depth chart struggling, Lycoming needed a spark. It found it in Needhammer, who scored on touchdown runs of 26 and 47 yards in the fourth quarter, helping Lycoming pull away for a 41-3 win.

He finished that game with 91 yards on just eight carries, and has never been lower than the team's No. 2 back since.

"His football knowledge is off the charts," Clark said. "So you have a really talented player who's also incredibly smart and just gets it."

Needhammer rushed for 111 yards and three touchdowns in Lycoming's 42-13 win against Susquehanna in the season opener last Saturday. The three scores gave him 29 in his collegiate career, tied with Tim Deasey for most in the program's history. And at Lycoming, the history is rich.

Needhammer, though, would rather continue to pile up wins than yards or touchdowns. In his three years, the team has gone 23-7 and won at least seven games each season, but they've yet to reach the NCAA playoffs.

"As long we keep winning, the records are great," Needhammer said. "But if I had to pick between winning a championship or rushing for 'X' amount of yards, I'm going to pick the championship."

Clark said Needhammer has...

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Columnist

Andrew Lovell

Andrew Lovell is an associate news editor for ESPN.com and a former sports staff writer/editor for the New Britain Herald (Conn.). He has contributed freelance work to ESPN Rise and has been a regular contributor to D3football.com since 2007. Andrew has also written for a number of daily newspapers in New York, including the Poughkeepsie Journal, Ithaca Journal and Auburn Citizen. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2008 with B.A. in Sport Media and a minor in writing. A native of Hyde Park, N.Y., Andrew currently resides in New Britain. 

2006-10 columnist: Adam Samrov 

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