Friday, August 23, 2013

Shaun Crawford, Wolverine

Cleveland (OH) St. Edward cornerback Shaun Crawford (image via
Cleveland (OH) St. Edward cornerback Shaun Crawford committed to Michigan on Friday afternoon. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Arkansas, Cincinnati, Florida State, Miami, Michigan State, Penn State, Tennessee, and West Virginia, among others.

Crawford is a 5'9", 171 lb. prospect who claims a 4.51 forty. As a sophomore in 2012, he had 66 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, 3 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery. He also had 24 receptions for 438 yards and 5 touchdowns as a slot receiver.

ESPN: 4-star, 83 grade, #5 athlete
Rivals: N/A
Scout: 4-star, #10 CB
247 Sports: 4-star, 91 grade, #17 CB, #156 overall

Crawford had long yearned for a Michigan offer, but he had to wait a little while to get it. (By "a little while," I mean after he publicly stated wanting one - anyone who gets an offer during their sophomore year is pretty advanced in the process.) He had claimed that a Michigan offer could very well end his process early, but as we often see, he held off on a commitment after saying that. He took a spring visit to Miami that went well, but it didn't match up to his Michigan experience, so he ended up committing just prior to his junior season.

I see a lot of good things to like about Crawford. As an offensive player, he's shifty and fast enough to run right by most high school defensive backs. If he gets in the open field, you can forget about catching him. But he will probably play defensive in college. As a cornerback, the first thing that jumps out is his tackling ability. Unlike, let's say . . . Cullen Christian or J.T. Floyd, Crawford is a very solid tackler. He does try to throw his shoulder into ball carriers on occasion, which will have to be coached out of him, but generally he wraps up, drives his feet, and gets the most out of his 171 lb. frame. Especially for someone his size, he's about as good of a tackler as you'll find. He has fluid hips and changes direction well. With his low center of gravity, he has the ability to break quickly on underneath routes and cause deflections, fumbles, etc. If he gets the ball in his hands, he can burst upfield through small windows and burrow for some extra yards.

I have some questions about his overall ability as a cornerback. We don't see him much in man coverage; instead, he spends a lot of time in zone, reading plays, coming up to support the run, and causing some havoc underneath. I would like to see whether he can flip his hips to run with receivers in man coverage, and whether he can turn his head to find the ball and make a play. This is not so much a criticism but a curiosity on my part.

In my opinion, Crawford projects best as a nickel corner in Michigan's defense. He's excellent in run support and could presumably be a capable blitzer off the edge with his physicality, even if he's lacking some size. He's physical enough to reroute receivers and fast enough to stay with some of the smaller guys that teams will throw out there in the slot. I also think he would be great as a Cover 2 corner, but Michigan hasn't run a ton of Cover 2 during Greg Mattison's stint as a defensive coordinator. Crawford also has the skills to help out in the return game down the road.

This is Michigan's fifth commitment in the class of 2015 and the first defensive back. He attends the alma mater of redshirt freshman offensive guard Kyle Kalis.

TTB Rating: I will not rate 2015 prospects until the 2014 class wraps up.


  1. That kid looks like a player. Agree that it would be nice to see some man-man coverage clips. But for a smallish sophomore playing major competition like that, the kid looks very good. Super-aggressive in run-support, nice instincts in zone, runs away from people as a receiver... he put together more impressive highlights as a soph than a lot of top recruits have over a career.

    I think this guy could be a James Ross type recruit - a slightly undersize defensive guy who just reads and reacts quicker than other players.

  2. I know he's small for it, but with his tackling ability and speed, could he play safety if his man to man isn't quite up to cornerback?

    1. Yeah, I think he could play safety, too. He's a better fit for safety than some of the guys we have playing there now (Courtney Avery, for example).

  3. Honey Badger......minus the whole weed thing!.....we hope!

  4. And don't forget, he's just starting his junior year. When signing day rolls around in 18 months, I wouldn't be surprised if he's added an inch or two and 10-15 lbs.

  5. Tyree Kinnel just committed as well. This coaching staff continues to amaze me

  6. Very excited about this commitment. Love the speed and the toughness. Offer list is fantastic. Really looking forward to watching him play.

  7. His speed is fantastic. He has the same speed as a 16 year old as Honey badger did in his nfl combine. To put that 4.51 (laser times at Nike) in perspective, Darius Slay of the Lions had the fastest speed at the combine at 4.36. There were just over a dozen other players btw Slay's speed and where this 16 year old kid is. If he can get to 4.45ish with 2 more years of natural growth he will be a truly elite speedster in college for that position. Also love that he loves to tackle. Rivals currently has him as the #5 prospect in Ohio.