It doesn't take long to figure out why Tory Crawford is so successful as the Army football team's quarterback.

"You give me a group of people and if they're willing to work, I can get them to do just about anything," said the senior, who will finish his career among the Cadets' top five in rushing and total offense and top 10 in passing. "I really like working with people and I like being a leader. There's just something about it."

Still, when Crawford was growing up in Houston, attending the U.S. Military Academy and playing for the Cadets was far from his mind.

"Something like Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom would be on one channel and you'd see the Army-Navy football game was on another channel, so I'd turn it on and watch it," he said. "I never thought I'd be playing in it -- but it's wild, it really is."

This year's wildness is Saturday at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium. And Crawford will be precisely where he wants to be -- right in the middle of it.

After leading Division I-A quarterbacks in rushing (98 yards per game for a total of 1,078) and scoring (8.4 points per game) last season as a junior, Crawford kept right on going at the beginning of this season. After three games, he was ranked 11th in the nation in rushing (114.3 yards per game) and second in scoring (12.7 points per game) while running Army's wishbone.

But then, in the second quarter of Army's game against Wake Forest, Crawford sprained a ligament in his left knee. He underwent arthroscopic surgery and missed the Cadets' next four games.

"Those games were the hardest games of my life," Crawford said, "because you know you have given your assistance out on the field. Knowing that you have the ability but not the capability because of an injury was a pain."

Even when he was in high school, Crawford, who has grown to 5 feet 11, 185 pounds, knew that his football career probably was going to end after college because of his size, no matter where he went. So, while recruiters from schools all over Texas made their pitches, Crawford's coaches and guidance counselors approached him with the idea of attending the Military Academy. He listened.

"I got a lot of literature on {Army}, started reading up on it," Crawford said. "I read about all the famous people that had come from here and I got it in my mind I could be a part of that. When I visited some of the other schools that recruited me, there was something about them I didn't like. When I visited Army, I saw all the artifacts and the statues and I felt I wanted to be part of that tradition and heritage. . . . When I look back on it, I really don't have any regrets."

Not that it's always been that way.

"I don't think West Point is a place you are supposed to enjoy," Crawford said. "I think it's something that you tolerate so you can attain the goals you want later on in life. There have been a lot of times I've called home and told my parents, 'Hey, get me a plane ticket; I'm coming home. I'm tired of this place. I hate it.' But then after that's over you have a lot of good days that outweigh those bad days."

Like Saturdays.