“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
"He's a hard worker, and he watched me and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) and Nik (Stauksas) put work in to become (first-round picks), and I'm just happy he's getting better," Burke said. "It's great for the program, too. It shows what type of program the University of Michigan is and the direction it continues to go in."
Crawford is an elite play-maker at QB and DB. He is a three year starter at QB, but projects to DB or WR at the next level. He has a tremendous natural ability to break on the football and can elevate to go get it(with great hands). His instincts are second to none and he has excellent pop as a tackler. Crawford lacks ideal height at 5'10, but is very strong on that frame. -Geoff Vogt, Florida Recruiting Analyst
They list his strengths as "Burst out of Breaks," "Instincts," and (perhaps most importantly for Michigan fans) "Tackling Ability." His only area for improvement is "Size," which, good luck with that.
As for that size, he's listed at 5-9 180 by Scout, and 5-10 185 by Rivals and ESPN, so I'll side with the majority there and give him the extra inch and five pounds. ESPN's evaluations are always breathless, but their talk on Crawford goes beyond that:
Crawford is simply one of the more instinctive defensive backs we have seen around the football in this class. A great overall athlete with excellent footwork and ball skills.
Before going any further, these are the things Michigan fans have been complaining about for the current DBs, no? Of course the height could be an issue, but ESPN says that he "plays taller." Without lifting their entire evaluation, we skip right to the moneyshot:
Crawford is still very scheme versatile as he could play corner or safety, a potentially great nickel and just a valuable defender in sub-packages. Simply a great playmaker with a nose for the football and some coveted intangibles.
Michigan picked up some smaller (Avery and Talbott) and a taller corner in the class of 2010, but Crawford is the third smurf-ish DB in the 2011 group. There's a chance he could stay at safety in college, but it seems more likely that he ends up on the corner.
Crawford's coach compares him favorably to Brodrick Jenkins, a South Fort Meyers product who now plies his trade at West Virginia:
“I tell all the programs that Dallas is as good as Brodrick. You better take him,” Redhead said. “He’s very talented. He’s got great grades. He’s going to make a great DB, slot receiver/running back in college. He’s just one of the best athletes, period.”
Crawford is also a productive QB for his high school, something that often correlates with good instincts (see: Avery, Courtney). He was profiled as the area's Most Outstanding Athlete as a junior:
It’s rare to see a quarterback, particularly one as gifted as Crawford, play so much on both sides of the ball. Coaches don’t like to risk injury to their star players more than they have to. For Redhead, though, it’s a risk he’s willing to take. Crawford’s athleticism at all positions make him a threat whenever he’s on the field, and Redhead says he’d be dumb not to let Crawford realize his full potential.
“He’s not going to help us standing next to me on the sidelines,” Redhead said. “He does some things I don’t think are possible. He’ll do some things where you say, ‘Don’t do that,’ but he comes out smelling like a rose. He’s so athletic and such a hard worker that it’s just easier for him.”
“Dallas is a phenomenal player,” Barron Collier coach Mark Ivey said. “He has an extremely strong arm and such great, athletic foot work. On defense, he’s an extremely powerful hitter.”
While he’s more than happy to help his team score points, Crawford calls himself a defensive player at heart. Being a quarterback has made him a better safety, he said, allowing him know what the opposing signal-caller is thinking.
An athlete that's too good to ever take off the field? An offensive star who considers him self more natural on defense? Yes, please.
Crawford's offer list has many mid-to-high level BCS programs, but very few upper echelon schools. Rivals has Georgia Tech, Iowa, Miami (YTM), and North Carolina as headliners, though Scout also credits him with LSU and Tennessee.
Crawford picked Michigan over the Hurricanes and Hawkeyes, not a bad pair of schools to beat out for a DB. That top three extended back to the summer.
Crawford's primary duty for South Fort Meyers is at quarterback, and he threw for 2,629 yards and 25 TDs while running for 422 yards and 5 TDs as a junior. On the defensive side of the ball, Crawford finished his junior year with 43 tackles and 10(!) interceptions, so he's no slouch as a high school DB, either. He was first-team all-state as an athlete, and the area defensive player of the year and 1st-team QB, all-district at free safety, and the Broxson Award winner as the Area MVP. Accolades: he has them.
He's been putting up good numbers in his senior season as well, so tune in for Friday Night Lights early next week to find out.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the recruiting sites have a listed 40 time for Crawford, which makes them not so much fake but imaginary. I'll use my powers to credit him with a 4.1-second time, so I can dole out the coveted five FAKEs out of five to myself.
Realistically, he's a guy known more for his quickness and football speed than being a straight-line burner, so a time in the mid 4.5s is probably likely. Sam Webb estimates this much in the Detroit News.
Here's his junior year:
I couldn't find any free senior video on the tubes.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Though Delonte Hollowell is ranked higher by Rivals, I think Crawford is probably the better corner in this class, and the most ready to earn immediate playing time. Instincts and quickness should help him to a key role on special teams as a true freshman, on coverage teams and potentially as a return guy. Michigan has three freshman corners this year that are all playing, and JT Floyd and Troy Woolfolk will both return from injury next year. There may be the luxury of a redshirt, as playing time in the secondary will be hard to come by in his first season, except in blowouts (unless the "undersized safety" suggestion by ESPN comes to fruition).
If Crawford doesn't redshirt, he'll have a bit of experience going into his sophomore year, with one of the corner positions opening up. He'll be in a battle with Courtney Avery, Terrence Talbott, and Cullen Christian for that spot. As a junior and senior, he'll get significant minutes in the secondary, even if he doesn't have a starting job.
Should he redshirt as a freshman, he'll get a bit of playing time on special teams and mop-up duty when he sees the field in 2012, then push for more playing time each year before locking down a spot as a junior and senior.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan's recruiting at the corner position is almost certainly finished barring attrition or position changes, though they'll probably look for a safety or two to finish out the secondary. That means defensive line and linebacker become the areas of extreme focus. Michigan has about 21 scholarships to give out, and with 12 guys committed (13 if you count Antonio Kinard), they can be pretty selective about who gets the final spots.
...Speaking of players to fill the final spots, Crawford is teammates and friends with top WR/S Sammy Watkins. Landing Dallas may help the Wolverines beat Miami and Clemson for Watkins, which would be a major bonus to picking up a solid DB. Scout's experts think Watkins may follow Crawford.
I'd love to put hit him in as a FS (in Ray Vinopal's spot) and just let him be a small interception hawking safety that plays an Ed Reed role on this team. Basically he would be able to pick off any throw overthrown to a WR down the seems. This would allow the CBs to cover underneath the WRs instead of always having to be on top of the WR.
Alex: Backup QB is the best position in sports. In fact I get drunk all the time, I don't have to show up to class, and it's just like being a real QB but without all the pain.