Hello From The Future: Shaun Crawford Comment Count

Ace August 23rd, 2013 at 4:03 PM

As expected, Lakewood (OH) St. Edward cornerback Shaun Crawford announced his commitment to Michigan via a live stream on ESPN's Recruiting Nation, choosing the Wolverines over fellow finalists Florida State, Miami (FL), and Tennessee. Crawford is the first defensive back and fifth prospect overall to commit to Brady Hoke's 2015 class.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
4*, #10 CB,
#98 Ovr
NR CB 4*, 83, #5 ATH,
#49 Ovr
4*, 91, #17 CB,
#156 Ovr
4*, #9 CB,
#89 Ovr

Of the three services that have released 2015 rankings, ESPN is the most bullish on Crawford, and all are in agreement that he's a solid four-star who easily makes their top-n lists. Rivals is the lone site that hasn't unveiled 2015 rankings; their Ohio state recruiting analyst, Marc Givler, gives us an idea of where Crawford might be end up there:

ESPN also has Crawford as the third-ranked junior in Ohio; if Givler's opinion holds, Crawford should end up ranked in the #50-overall range on Rivals.

Crawford's size has been and will be a topic of much discussion, especially given Michigan's recent proclivity for recruiting big cornerbacks; all four sites list him at a diminutive 5'9" and 165-175 pounds. Most corners that size have issues playing man-up on larger receivers and holding up in run support. With Crawford, the latter part, at least, is not an issue...

SCOUTING

...because his highlight tape is essentially eight minutes of this:

Crawford can bring the wood and he's got the play recognition ability to make a big impact in the run game and defending the flats. But don't take it from me. Take it from everyone else. Here's Givler again after taking in a St. Edward scrimmage last week:

Rivals analyst Josh Helmholdt after watching St. Edward in a game last fall ($):

Shaun Crawford, ATH, Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward (2015): The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Crawford plays both wide receiver and nickel cornerback, but I listed him with the defense because that is where he was most effective. Crawford had a few drops on offense, but he is an outstanding open-field tackler on defense.

Crawford on Crawford ($):

Playing as a sophomore at St. Ed's is not exactly a common thing and making an impact on both sides of the ball as a sophomore is even more uncommon. So where does Crawford like playing the most?

"I like playing corner the best," he said. "I just like hitting people."

You get the point.

Of course, tackling is but one small part of playing cornerback — the whole covering receivers part is a pretty big deal. Bucknuts's Duane Long ranked Crawford as his #8 rising junior in Ohio, and the writeup makes it sound like he probably should've been higher on the list ($):

8. Shaun Crawford, Athlete, Lakewood St. Edward: As much as it pains me to rank a Michigan lean in my top 10, Crawford is too good to ignore. He has all the tools. He is the best cover corner in Ohio regardless of class but I have a hard time placing a player with this much game-breaking ability on defense. Crawford is just as impressive on offense. Crawford has the hips and feet to be an elite cover corner but he is such a fine tackler he could be a safety. His speed is something special.

Someone is going to get a great player whether he plays offense or defense. Right now it looks like Michigan. An offer might help the situation. He was supposed to be a huge Michigan lean and has an offer. What is he waiting on? Maybe we have it wrong. Maybe we are looking at an Ohio kid being brought up to speed on life after football for someone who intends to return to Ohio. We will see. Love to see this one in Scarlet and Gray.

Yes, that second paragraph is particularly delicious.

Crawford's cover skills are bolstered by his top-notch speed; he was regarded as a big-time track prospect before he even got to high school and has since posted electronic times of 10.80 seconds in the 100-meter dash and 21.80 in the 200. Between his speed and willingness to throw his body around, Crawford's dispelled many of the concerns about his height, as evidenced by this quote from Scout's Bill Greene:

Said Greene, “That’s the only drawback (to his game) -- his height. But it doesn’t bother me because I’ve seen him play live and he is a great football player.

His speed is amazing, but he’s got hips so he can turn and run. If he does false-step or get beat, he’s got lighting speed to catch up. And he will come up and hit people. There is no worry about if he can tackle coming up from the corner spot because he comes up and hits people. So he is a great athlete and a great kid. He comes from a great family, he is unbelievable in the classroom (and) he is a leader. There is nothing not to like about Shaun Crawford.

Run support: check. Cover skills: check. Track-star speed: check. Fits The Pattern™: check.

Greene added in the same article that "[i]f he was 6-1 he would probably the top cornerback in America," and noted that Crawford plays against some of the best high school competition in the country at St. Edward. Crawford's height may hold him back a little against taller college receivers, though it seems that it'll be more of an issue for NFL scouts; he's an elite talent with a skill-set that covers for his lone apparent shortcoming.

OFFERS

Crawford held offers from Arkansas, Cincinnati, Florida State, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Ohio State and Notre Dame both showed interest but didn't offer prior to his commitment, much to the dismay of Duane Long in the former case.

HIGH SCHOOL

Lakewood St. Edward is one of the top programs in Ohio's Division I, producing a number of top recruits in recent years and winning the state title in 2010. Notable former prospects include five-star Michigan guard Kyle Kalis (2012), five-star Ohio State tackle Alex Boone (2005), four-star Ohio State safety Nate Oliver (2007), four-star Northwestern defensive tackle Nate Kuhar (2012), four-star Iowa safety Diauntae Morrow (2007), and a long list of three-stars that contains former Michigan target and 2012 Oklahoma signee TE Sam Grant.

STATS

According to 247, Crawford recorded 66 tackles (three for loss), a sack, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery in his sophomore season. He also netted 438 yards and five touchdowns on 24 catches as a receiver.

FAKE 40 TIME

Crawford ran a laser-timed 4.51 40 at February's Nike Combine in Massillon, a very impressive figure that gets zero FAKEs out of five. He posted a 37.4-inch vertial leap at the same combine; that leaping ability should help him in defending taller pass-catchers.

VIDEO

Sophomore highlights courtesy of ScoutingOhio:

Here's video of last weekend's scrimmage courtesy of OhioPreps — Crawford appears with big hits on the two plays beginning at the :55 mark, a short touchdown catch at the 2:30 mark, consecutive TFLs at the 3:13 mark, and another huge hit at the 4:00 mark. Not bad for a day's work:

More clips, including individual game highlights, are available at Crawford's Hudl page.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Despite his size, Crawford is an ideal candidate to play boundary corner. He's got the speed and cover skills to match up with outside receivers and more than enough tackling ability to hold up on the edge. Much like Michigan is doing with Dymonte Thomas this year — and may do again next year with Jabrill Peppers — the coaches could also give Crawford a first-year internship at nickel if he's ready to see the field that early before moving him to the outside.

When Crawford arrives on campus, Michigan will have a senior Blake Countess, a junior Terry Richardson, this year's freshman crop of Reon Dawson, Ross Douglas, Jourdan Lewis, and Channing Stribling, and of course 2014 commits Jabrill Peppers and Brandon Watson. That's a lot of older players to pass on the depth chart, though if Crawford continues to develop it could be tough to keep him off the field regardless. I really like his game and expect him to be a multi-year starter.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Michigan has one defensive back in the fold for 2015 and could very well add another tomorrow in Tyree Kinnel, a 3.5-star safety prospect who could also project as a bigger cornerback. With a very small projected class and plenty of depth in place, the Wolverines would likely take just one more defensive back — NJ CB Minkah Fitzpatrick is a top national target who's shown some interest in Michigan, and five-star CA CB Iman Marshall has an offer in hand, though he's a longshot.

Crawford is Michigan's fifth commit in the '15 class (sixth if you count grayshirt DT Brady Pallante); that group may only expand to 15-17 signees, so Michigan will be very selective about whom they offer. Top priorities include quarterback, at least one more offensive lineman, defensive end, and outside linebacker.

Comments

GoBlueInNYC

August 23rd, 2013 at 4:17 PM ^

Is nickel back easier to play than other DB positions? Or is that NBs tend to have safety help over the top, so a screw up is not as disastrous as for other CBs?

Just curious as to the logic behind the nickel apprenticeship plan.

Ace

August 23rd, 2013 at 4:34 PM ^

I got to chat with Marlin Jackson about that before Jabrill Peppers committed. This is his authoritative take on why the coaches like putting talented freshmen at nickel:

Yes I'm aware of Dymonte playing nickel this year, nickel is just about raw athleticism, not as much about technique, more so about about natural football instincts and skills.  This is why most schools put top incoming freshmen in this slot.

Nickel was my starting position and I was starting by Big Ten play.  Allows you to get comfortable.  When you have players like Jabrill, myself, and Dymonte, who are athletic, have good size and instincts along with a physical style of play, you have good candidate for nickel back.

dragonchild

August 23rd, 2013 at 7:26 PM ^

To add to Ace and Mr. Jackson, nickelback is perhaps more of a challenge in run support. . . not a concern with this dude evidently.

But I think the idea that nickleback is "easier" than cornerback is a bit inaccurate.  OK there's safety help, but if the offense is picking up first down after first down off short passes to the slotback, your nickelback play is exhausting the entire defense.  That's not a trivial responsibility.

I'd tweak the concept to say the position is simpler.  You need to be good, but you don't need to study all fourteen volumes of Ye Compleat Encyclopediae of Footballe to play the position because when the nickleback gets picked on it's typically with quick plays you defend with athleticism & instincts.  That's the assumption, but then again, South Carolina's four-verts basically attacked that premise; it counted on opposing defenses to not have five experienced DBs.

GoBlueInNYC

August 23rd, 2013 at 4:19 PM ^

Is this a joke?

Maybe we are looking at an Ohio kid being brought up to speed on life after football for someone who intends to return to Ohio. (from the Bucknuts quote)

Seems like it should be, but I'm not sure. If not, that is seriously messed up.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

August 23rd, 2013 at 4:31 PM ^

It's fairly logical, actually.  A Michigan degree is great and you'd well set up for life after football with one.  But an Ohio State football player, who is native to the state of Ohio, and who will live in Ohio for the rest of his life, will get in every single door he knocks on.  His ass will be kissed all his life.  He'll be the life of every party, get any job he asks for, and his opinion will be written in stone for yea the world to see, for all time.  Isn't this more or less the way things are in any state?  I would guess especially in Ohio, where the hero worship can be unhealthy at times.

TrppWlbrnID

August 24th, 2013 at 11:51 AM ^

So, go to OSU play football if you want to live in Ohio and the best days of your life are when you are 23 going to bars and getting all the busch light you want and meth head women that will service you and your boys for $5 each cuz in '15 she watched you in the gator bowl and getting jobs you have to ask for, like snow plowing or sell piZzas.

Or go to Michigan, live anywhere in the world, get jobs you demand and live the best day of your life today, on your yacht, with your model wife, and 5 pottery barn looking kids and your charitable foundation helping hospital kids and being offered the ambassadorship of Lichtenstein and turning it down for the one in Rwanda so you can do the most good.

Ron Utah

August 23rd, 2013 at 4:25 PM ^

Reminded me of Boobie Miles' uncle in FNL, "And he can pass!"

Seriously though, looks like a great prospect that needs nothing but a few more pounds to be an impact player in college.  Love it.

Welcome to the family, Mr. Crawford.

GO BLUE.

Low Key Recidivist

August 23rd, 2013 at 9:36 PM ^

Webb could be a boundary corner, but different players.  Webb has more length and may end up on offense (Crawford could play slot, but it ain't happening).  Crawford may be the most instinctive and disciplined corner UM has recruited since I can remember (Countess is close, but more of a field corner and not nearly as physical).  Even when he get's caught slightly out of position technique-wise, he's intelligent and disciplined enought to pull up and has the athleticism to make the play.  And he can flat out bring the wood.

He dropped a bit in rankings during the camp season, but the gameday film doesn't lie.

Fantasitic pick-up by the staff.   

ChiBlueBoy

August 23rd, 2013 at 4:36 PM ^

For some reason lately, when I read these Hello posts, I watch the videos and just start laughing. Cackling, really. These kids are 3-stooges-silly good. Crazy recruiting these days.

EGD

August 23rd, 2013 at 4:40 PM ^

So, the only knock on Crawford is his height, and he's 5'9" as a high school sophomore.  I mean, he's a corner--all he needs is another inch or two and he's basically average height for a college CB.  Seems plausible he could add that by the time he gets to A2.

MBloGlue

August 23rd, 2013 at 5:00 PM ^

I'm thinking he's really 5'11" but has compacted down a couple inches from all the awesome hits he's put on opposing backs.  A few yoga stretches and he'll be back at 5'11" in no time. 

gwkrlghl

August 23rd, 2013 at 5:58 PM ^

I was probably 5'8-9" as a sophmore but I grew till I was probably a sophomore in college (like many guys). It's plausible to think that he might make it to 5'11" or so, maybe 6'?

Ivan Karamazov

August 23rd, 2013 at 4:43 PM ^

around the 5:25 speaks volumes about his physical play style just as mch as the hit stick highlights.  To stick your nose in there and help stand up the RB as a smaller guy is quite impressive.

Excited for him to see the field in.....2017??

MBloGlue

August 23rd, 2013 at 5:13 PM ^

Welcome Shaun!

I'm curious from those who know something about Lakewood St. Edward what to make of the good guys getting both Kalis in 2012 and now Crawford for 2015.  I took a look at Rivals, and Northwestern recruited a four star in 2012 and two three stars in 2011.  Ohio hasn't taken a top recruit from the school since 2007.  Kalis is the only one who had an OSU offer, but there appears to be a trend forming of the school's top recruits going out of state to top academic schools.

TheGeneral

August 23rd, 2013 at 5:02 PM ^

I don't fall in love with every recruit but when I do it's a recruit like Shaun Crawford! We might have all known it was coming but it's still sweet now that he's commited. You watching Jashon? Where you at Hilliard? Go Blue!