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HELLO: DYLAN CRAWFORD
Michigan added another All-American to the class this afternoon when Rancho Santa Maragarita (CA) Catholic WR Dylan Crawford announced his pledge during the first quarter of the Army game. Crawford is the 24th commit in the 2016 class and the fourth at receiver, joinging Brad Hawkins, Nate Johnson, and Ahmir Mitchell (as well as ATH Chris Evans, who's expected to compete at the slot).
The Wolverines have long been at or near the top of the list for Crawford, and when fellow finalist Oregon filled up their receiver spots, it became apparent he'd choose Michigan. He's mentioned that he'd still like to take visits to Georgia, Miami, UCLA, and Washington; we'll see if that comes to pass now that he's a commit.
4*, #24 WR,
4*, #25 WR,
4*, 82, #23 WR,
4*, 94, #21 WR,
4*, #20 WR,
Crawford's rankings are so consistent across the board that both his position and overall ranks on the 247 Composite are higher than those given to him by any of the four recruiting services.
He's been to enough camps that there's a close agreement on his size: the consensus is he's 6'1" and somewhere in the 185-pound range. He weighed in at 183 at The Opening in July.
Crawford has been a frequent camp participant over the last couple years, so there's no shortage of scouting reports on him. Scout's Brandon Huffman pegged him as a national-level recruit back in the summer of 2014, when Crawford was one of the top underclassmen at the Oregon NFTC:
Crawford was neck-and-neck with [Trevon] Sidney, his good friend, for most of the afternoon, and the only thing that really separated them were just a couple of more acrobatic catches that Sidney made. But Crawford was just as consistent, just as explosive and just as polished as Sidney was. We've seen Crawford a ton this spring and this may have been the best we've seen him throughout. He's every bit the national recruit he's already become.
Crawford played his high school ball with Stanford QB commit and one-time Michigan target KJ Costello, and the pair were tough to stop on the 7-on-7 circuit. 247's Barton Simmons saw him as a versatile threat who can line up outside or in the slot after the Pylon 7-on-7 tourney. Rivals' Blair Angulo on the SoCal Elite tourney last March:
Crawford is one of Costello's favorite targets, everybody knows it, and not many people seem able to stop it. He's a strong route runner where he cuts extraordinarily well and he does a great job setting up cornerbacks. The four-star is also exceptional at catching low passes by getting his hands under the ball and scooping it. Sometimes, he lets the ball get into his body, but most of the time Crawford rips it out of the air and has proven time and again to be a top-notch receiver.
In addition to his route-running and catching radius, Crawford impressed Angulo with his big-play ability later in the camp season at the RCS Los Angeles:
The group of receivers was loaded, but Crawford managed to stick out once again with his ability to stretch the field. The four-star wideout made numerous plays deep, including a few leaping catches that appeared effortless. Crawford has a well-rounded repertoire that should make him one of the most productive players in the area once he regains eligibility this fall following his offseason transfer.
The returns haven't always been positive on the camp trail; Crawford has been a little quiet at a couple of the bigger events. 247 moved him down after The Opening despite great test results:
While Santa Margarita (Calif.) Catholic receiver Dylan Crawford put together strong testing numbers, making the Top 10 of the entire camp, he was quiet during the 7on7 portion and never really asserted himself. We still love Crawford's ability and athletic traits but he's dropped outside the Top100 until we see the production improve.
While this is on a limited sample, Rivals had him as a "stock down" guy after Monday's Army game practice because of issues hanging on to the football:
Physically the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Crawford was one of the most impressive looking wide receivers on the West. He has an easy, fluid stride and gets in and out of his breaks well. The issue Monday was Crawford fighting the football. Even easy passes with no defensive backs in the vicinity were being dropped, and priority No. 1 for a wide receiver is catching the football.
Crawford bounced back on Thursday, earning a top performer spot for the West squad from 247:
Strong performance from the California wide receiver. He looked to go through the motions throughout much of the first two days of practice, but he took his game to new heights on day three. His effort really stood out today. He got free a lot during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 and made sure to finish each run when the ball came his way. That effort will help him find the field early next year, whether that’s at Michigan, USC, Oregon, Arizona State, Stanford, or another top program.
ESPN really likes Crawford's route-running and doesn't seem too concerned with his hands:
Is very shifty with wiggle and fluid change-of-direction to use at the top of stems into and out of breaks. Comes off the ball rapidly and can get on the toes of defenders quickly to eat up cushion, attack alignment and get vertical. Wins a lot of deep routes with a step or so largely in part to proper technique. Is likely quicker than fast overall, but knows how to use his feet, hips and burst to gain separation.
Possesses efficient and reliable ball skills on both sides of the ball. Is very adept at tracking the deep ball over the shoulder. Shows good focus when contested. Has a reasonably wide catch radius to adjust to balls thrown outside of his frame. Transitions quickly after the tuck. Looks to be more comfortable plucking on the move than coming back to the football.
Rivals noted another strong aspect of Crawford's skill-set when Angulo scouted a Santa Margarita Catholic game in September:
Four-star wide receiver Dylan Crawford didn't have a big night as a pass catcher but he still left his mark, paving the way for some big runs with effective blocking on the edge. The Rivals250 prospect was not only willing to block, but also fiery when it came to the task. He said afterward he realizes receivers have to be well rounded at the next level and he has worked hard at making his presence felt even when the ball isn't in the air.
In a game where Angulo said Costello struggled to find a rhythm, Crawford still made an impact in a victory.
As long as his hands don't become an issue—and it sounds like his issues at Monday's Army practice were out of character—Crawford boasts all the skills necessary to make an early impact for Michigan as a slot receiver.
Crawford held offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Miami, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, SMU, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, and Washington State—a great selection of West Coast offers with some strong national programs also involved.
Crawford and Costello are far from alone as Santa Margarita Catholic prospects who've earned a spot on Power 5 programs. The school also produced current USC center Max Tuerk, former San Diego State and current Dallas Cowboys tight end Gavin Escobar, and ten other Power 5 signees since 2002, according to the Rivals database.
According to MaxPreps, Crawford caught 51 passes for 822 yards (16.1 YPC) and seven touchdowns in ten games as a senior.
FAKE 40 TIME
Crawford posted the fifth-best SPARQ score during initial testing at The Opening last summer despite some trying circumstances, per Scout's Greg Biggins:
Dylan Crawford was one of 10 participants out of the 166 who tested to qualify for NIKE Football Rating Championship. At 6-1.5, 183 pounds, the athlete clocked a 4.45-40, 4.01 in the shuttle, jumped 37” in the vertical and threw the power ball 42’.
“I just got out of a walking boot that I was in for three weeks too,” Crawford said during the event. “I wasn’t able to run at all for the last month, this was really the first time I was able to do it so I was definitely happy with how I did. I know I can run even faster too so it was very encouraging for me to make the top 10 out here.”
Crawford didn't quite perform as well in the finals, posting a 4.61 40 and a 4.23 shuttle, though he improved his power ball toss (44.5') and vertical leap (40.1"). Posting a zero-FAKE, electronically timed 4.45 40-yard dash coming off an injury is pretty darn impressive regardless, especially in combination with those other testing scores.
Mid-season senior highlights:
Full junior highlights:
Sophomore highlights can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
As the highest-ranked and most polished of Michigan's current receiver commits, Crawford appears to have the best chance to see the field as a freshman. Grant Perry is the only player on the roster who's seen snaps in the slot, where Crawford best projects. Crawford, Nate Johnson, and Chris Evans should battle with Perry for that job and perhaps some backup snaps if the coaches want to utilize the position more in 2016.
Crawford is also a candidate to compete on the outside when Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh graduate after the 2016 season. With his skill and versatility, it's hard not to see him making an impact—and perhaps locking down a starting job—by his second year on campus.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
With Signing Day less than a month away, Michigan has narrowed their focus to a small group of prospects to close out the class. While the class now stands at 24 commits out of a planned class of 27, a few more spots are expected to open up due to attrition from within the class. There's a slim, but non-zero, chance that Michigan adds a huge piece to the class later this afternoon in five-star GA TE Isaac Nauta, who's expected to choose Georgia but has indicated his final decision was much more difficult than many thought. He'll announce sometime during the fourth quarter of the Army game.
Other top targets include five-star DT Rashan Gary, four-star CB David Long, four-star CB Lavert Hill, four-star ATH Jordan Fuller, four-star WDE Levi Onwuzurike, four-star WDE Connor Murphy, four-star TE Devin Asiasi, four-star DT/OL Boss Tagaloa, four-star ILB Dontavoius Jackson, four-star TE Jacob Mathis, three-star ILB Jonathan Jones, three-star WR Pie Young, three-star OLB Khaleke Hudson, and three-star TE Chase Allen.
Here's the class as it currently stands: