Scott Crichton has a specific objective in mind for his next four years.
He intends to start every game for Oregon State at defensive end.
He's on pace to do that, having earned the starting spot during spring practice and not letting go of it.
"I'm trying to start all my four years here," the redshirt freshman from Tacoma, Wash., said.
His timing couldn't be much better. OSU saw most of its defensive line depart after last season, meaning there was a greater chance for a young player to make an immediate impact.
Crichton spent last season as a redshirt, adding bulk and impressing teammates and coaches with his scout team performance. He was the scout team's defensive most valuable player.
Then came his spring performance, when he outshone other candidates with his effort and work ethic.
"Crichton started this in the spring," coach Mike Riley said. "He just played it right and locked it up and he's carried it forward since then."
Continuing that effort and striving for steady improvement are on Crichton's agenda. Seeing him deliver on his potential is on the Beavers' agenda.
"We lost three starters from last year, we've got to prove to ourselves that we're still a good defensive line," Crichton said. "It's something we have to do. It starts with Sacramento State, and it starts here, every day, in practice."
So far, practice has been Crichton's place and time to shine. He isn't mistake free, but he is intent on not repeating mistakes.
"Coach Joe (Seumalo), he teaches me something every day," Crichton said. "He tells me when I make mistakes and how to fix it. That's what it takes - working hard and fixing your mistakes every day."
OSU needs to perform better up front on defense after giving up an average of 179.5 yards rushing a game in 2010. The defense surrendered just more than 400 yards a game and nearly 27 points an outing. Those numbers were partially to blame for a 5-7 season.
As a team, OSU had 30 sacks and 81 tackles for loss. It also gave up 127 rushing first downs.
Still, two of the three starters to depart are in the NFL now, so there is a standard for better play that Crichton looks too emulate.
He also takes a lead from Kevin Frahm, the lone returning starter.
"He's a mentor, a role model, a great example of a player," Crichton said.
Crichton has a reputation as a hard-working, high energy player. He was the Narrows League MVP at Henry Foss High in Tacoma, making 78 solo tackles.
"Scott has all the physical tools and he just has great football instincts," Foss coach Ken Baker said when Crichton signed his letter-of-intent with OSU. "He uses them, too. I don't think I've ever coached a kid who keeps his head in the game every minute and covers the whole field so relentlessly."
That sort of approach is what the Beavers need, and Crichton wants to deliver it. He also wants to take it to another level.
"I kind of want to be an All-American, or as close as I can," he said, gazing at the list of past OSU All-Americans in the Valley Center's third floor dining area. "I'd like to put my name up there, too."