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Jacobs Crawley '11, 2015 Wrangler NFR World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider

Jacobs Crawley '11 January 7, 2016 11:39 AM updated: January 7, 2016 11:42 AM


Jacobs Crawley isn't your typical rodeo athlete. When he wasn't busy riding bucking horses at Texas A&M, Crawley earned his degree in industrial and systems engineering.

"It's a lot of numbers. I loved math and always enjoyed testing myself," said Crawley, 27. "It's better to be overeducated than undereducated."

Crawley doesn't need a college degree to calculate his odds of winning his first saddle bronc riding world title this year. Suffice it to say they're better than average.

The Texan placed second in the fifth round of the Nationals Finals Rodeo on Monday night at the Thomas & Mack Center to maintain his lead in the world standings and in the NFR average.

Crawley, Wade Sundell and rookie CoBurn Bradshaw — who won the fifth round with a 90-point ride on Beutler & Sons' Wound Up — are the only saddle bronc riders to place in all five rounds. Crawley, who has taken second twice and fourth three times, turned in a 88.5-point ride on Frontier Rodeo's Medicine Woman to extend his world standings lead to more than $14,000 over Cody DeMoss, who lost the lead Friday for the first time since Feb. 9.

Crawley, who has $193,324 in earnings, leads the average with 418.5 points and has won $74,462 in Las Vegas at the NFR's midpoint. But he said he hasn't thought much about winning his first gold buckle.

"I won't think about that until the 10th night after getting done on that bucking horse," he said. "I just keep it simple. I try not to overthink it."

Crawley had to rack his brain during his first NFR appearance in 2011, when his final semester of college coincided with the Super Bowl of rodeo.

After the seventh round, Crawley gave his final presentation to his class at Texas A&M via Skype from his Aria hotel room, where he sat in a suit coat and shorts at his ironing board. He flew home the Sunday following the NFR, took two finals Monday and graduated Thursday.

Rather than following his father and grandfather into a career as an engineer, Crawley hit the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Assocation trail with his younger brother, two-time NFR qualifier Sterling Crawley, and former PRCA saddle bronc rider Jeremy Melancon.

The Crawley brothers quickly became known as much for their mode of transportation — a modified black ambulance — as their riding. Alas, the ambulance has been retired as a rodeo rig. Melancon, who was the actual owner, sold it to a friend who bought it for sentimental reasons.

"It wasn't reliable enough to put 40,000 miles on it over the summer," Crawley said.

The Crawley brothers, traveling as a duo this year, have upgraded to a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van.

"It's like a FedEx van," Crawley said.

More like a FedEx van on steroids, with two queen beds, a couch, TV and even a propane stove built into a wooden box that can fit a full-size frying pan for meals on the road.

"We do a lot of cooking in rodeos and going up and down the road," Crawley said. "It's a way to stay away from fast food and eating out all the time. We're real big into steak and asparagus and squash."

When the Crawley brothers aren't firing up the stove in the van, they're often sitting outside it around the campfire with Jacobs playing his guitar alongside other cowboys.

His favorite music is Americana, which includes elements of country, folk, bluegrass and blues. But Crawley hasn't had much cause to play the blues this year, getting married in May and excelling at the NFR.

"This is important, but this isn't the priority," Crawley said of the NFR. "My priorities are to my new wife and our future. This is just kind of something I love to do. If everything's great with her and we're great, life is good no matter what goes on in the arena."

That said, Crawley dearly wants to win his first gold buckle, which would leave five-time world runner-up DeMoss singing the blues.

"I think he deserves to be a world champion," Crawley said of "Hot Sauce." "I want to beat him really bad, but if he beat me it wouldn't hurt my feelings at all. He's a great bronc rider and has been for a long time."

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