While he admired Mauney from afar, it was former Monster Energy bull rider L.J. Jenkins, who had the greatest impact on Cravens career.
The youngster was part of a group of up-and-coming local bull riders who would visit Jenkins’ ranch in Porum, Oklahoma, to ride bulls whenever Jenkins was bucking bulls.
“LJ lives like five minutes away from me and pretty much taught me everything I know,” Cravens said. “I didn’t know how to ride bulls, honestly, and he just taught me the right way to ride them I guess you could say. That’s really how I got on tour.”
Cravens added, “Whenever I was 14, I was getting on PBR caliber bulls.”
That was the same age, 14, that Cravens started living on his own. His parents let him travel with older kids. Mature beyond his years, Cravens even bought a house with his own money when he was only 16-years-old.
His dad helped him secure a loan in his own name and then provided the younger Cravens with a plot of land to build on and call his own.
Cravens jokes he rode so many of Jenkins’ bulls over the years that it was Jenkins who bought his house.
Jokes aside, despite being a PBR rookie this year, he’s been riding many of the same bulls used on the elite televised tour for the past five years. Cravens said what separates him from other newcomers is that “when they get up to the bigger level, they really don’t know what to do.”
For being 18 going on 19, the teenager has the experience – professionally and personally – of someone being 21 or 22-years-old.
Cravens is currently ranked 17th in the PBR world standings.
He is not happy with simply being on tour or being in the Top 20. Or just knowing that he will qualify for his first ever appearance at the World Finals. He sees himself as a Top 10 bull rider contending for a world title.
“I got to start turning things around real quick,” Cravens said. “I’ve been thinking way too much.”
He added, “It’s been different for sure, but I can’t let it bother me.”
Cravens is adjusting to an accelerated career among the Top 35.
Cravens and his Monster Energy teammates – Jose Vitor Leme, Chase Outlaw, Derek Kolbaba and Tanner Byrne – will join the rest of the top-ranked riders in the world in Columbus, Ohio this coming weekend for the Wrangler Long Live Cowboys Classic.
And then head to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in mid-May for the Ty Murray Classic.