As a senior, Craig Cassidy has taken on an expanded role on Bucknell’s special teams and defensive line. Originally a fullback, he transitioned to defensive end during the 2016 campaign and hasn’t look back. The Mount Laurel, N.J. native has also been heavily involved in the Bucknell Athletics Leadership Institute since his freshman year.

Q: You’re in your first full season as a defensive end. What has that transition been like, and how did you go from not appearing in a game as an underclassmen to playing in 15 of the past 16?

A: In terms of earning playing time, it’s been a long road. I was recruited as a defensive end, but, before I got on campus for my freshman year, I was switched over to fullback. The coaches decided there was a need there, and, the second they asked me, I was on board. But I never really fit into that role. It just never clicked for me. Last year, they decided to move in a different direction with the fullback position, and they asked me to play on the defensive scout team. I said yes. Every day in practice for about two months, I got to go up against Julién Davenport. It got to the point where I was giving him enough of a test, they gave me an opportunity on the defensive line. I’ve tried to take full advantage of it.

Q: What are some of the other activities you’re involved in on campus?

A: I’ve been in the Bucknell Athletics Leadership Institute since my freshman year. My freshman and sophomore years, I was the class treasurer in the Bucknell Student Government. I worked at the Career Development Center for two semesters and really enjoyed my time there. I also volunteer whenever I can. I’ve always liked doing as many things as I can.

Q: What has your experience been like in the Leadership Institute?

A: It’s been incredible. We’re able to interact with different coaches and players from other teams, and that’s been fantastic. I’ve been able to learn about different leadership styles, and that’s impacted and changed my own leadership style. Lauren Wicklund has done an outstanding job developing various activities, as did Maisha Kelly before her.

Q: How did you initially get involved in the Leadership Institute?

A: When I was a freshman, Coach [Joe] Susan selected two people per class to be in the Leadership Academy. From the freshman class, he chose me and Mark Pyles. Since the program transitioned from the Leadership Academy to the Leadership Institute, other guys have been added, and Mark and I stuck with it. It’s been a great opportunity, and it’s cool to have watched it grow since becoming the Leadership Institute.  

Q: When you were making your college decision, why did you choose Bucknell?

A: A bunch of reasons. Academically, it’s a great school. Socially, I really fit in here. It’s a beautiful campus. In terms of football, I liked the culture and felt I would mix well with the guys who were in the program. Everything seemed to fit, and the opportunities beyond football have been so much more than I could have ever hoped for.

Q: What’s your major, and why did you decide to pursue it?

A: I’m an economics major, but I came in as a biology major thinking I would work towards going to medical school. But, early on, I figured out that wasn’t for me, and it got to the point where the things I was doing were related to business and economics. So I went into that and have enjoyed it ever since. It’s great how Bucknell allows you to try different things early on so you can get on the right path.

Q: When did you start playing football, and how did you get involved in the sport?

A: Gosh, it’s been almost 10 years now. I started playing in sixth grade because of my dad. He’s from South Philly and has been a huge football fan his whole life. High school, college, every opportunity I’ve gotten, I’ve made sure to take advantage of, and I’ve enjoyed my time playing.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about living in Lewisburg?

 A: I love Market Street. I love a bunch of the restaurants and shops that are down there, and I’m at Bucknell’s bookstore way more than I should be (laughs). Mercado Burrito is fantastic. It’s not on Market Street, but I love Lewisburg Freeze. I also like how Lewisburg is so close to many shopping centers. It works out for me.

This Q&A originally ran in the program for Bucknell's game against Monmouth on Sept. 30, 2017.