Dylan Crawford, Wolverine

Dylan Crawford, Wolverine


January 9, 2016

Dylan Crawford (image via USA Today)

Rancho Santa Margarita (CA) Catholic wide receiver Dylan Crawford committed to Michigan at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He chose the Wolverines over offers from Cal, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC, and Washington, among others.

Crawford is 6’1″, 185 lbs. As a senior in 2015, he caught 51 passes for 822 yards (16.1 yards/catch) and 7 touchdowns. He claims a 4.45 forty, a 37″ vertical, and a 4.01 shuttle time.

RATINGS
ESPN: 4-star, 82 grade, #23 WR, #179 overall
Rivals: 4-star, #25 WR, #115 overall
Scout: 4-star, #24 WR, #131 overall
247 Sports: 4-star, 94 grade, #21 WR, #131 overall

Hit the jump for the rest of the commitment post.

Crawford was initially offered by Michigan as an underclassman at La Canada (CA) St. Francis, but he transferred to be able to play with2016 quarterback¬†K.J. Costello (Stanford), who was also being recruited by Michigan at the time. Early on in their recruitment, they talked about playing college ball together, along with fellow Californians Theo Howard (UCLA) and David Long, Jr. (uncommitted). There’s a chance that none of those players play together at all in college, although Long could very well end up committing to Michigan in a couple weeks. While those other players went off the board (Long was committed to Stanford for a while), Crawford was reportedly waiting on an Oregon offer. Just when it looked like Crawford might hop on the Michigan commitment list, the Ducks offered and threw a wrench into the Wolverines’ plans. Fortuitously for Michigan, Oregon took two other receivers’ commitments in recent weeks, erasing the opportunity for Crawford to go to Eugene. Michigan may be his #2 choice, but things happen like that sometimes.

Crawford is solidly built and has a decent frame. He does a good job of bursting off the line of scrimmage, and he has a strong running stride. Once he gets going in a straight line, he can be tough to knock off of his stem or to drag down when he has the ball. He shows good lateral movement, and he can shake defenders in space. Crawford is a deft route runner who does a good job of using head movement and jab steps to set up defensive backs. When the ball is in the air, he high-points it and is strong enough to outmuscle some cornerbacks and safeties; he shows the ability to work across the middle of the field without being affected by impending contact. Crawford displays some aggression toward defensive backs in the running game, and he can be a very effective blocker on the edge with crack blocks and stalk blocks.

Crawford does not have many obvious weaknesses in his game. He does not have a huge frame, but that is a somewhat minor concern in the college game. At times he looks a little clunky catching the ball, so drops may be a concern. He was also the second-most productive receiver on a team with Costello throwing the ball; Grant Calcaterra, a 2017 prospect, is a 6’4″, 205 lb. 3-star with offers from Illinois and Purdue, among others, and he had more yards and touchdowns than Crawford. That may be a product of defenses overplaying Crawford and allowing Calcaterra to take over, but it does raise a question of whether Crawford can be the go-to guy in college when he wasn’t that guy in high school.

I like Crawford as a slot receiver. He does well in traffic, and he’s sturdy enough to handle playing in there with some bigger guys. I also like the idea of getting him the ball quickly and letting him run tough and break some tackles. He’s more polished than any of the other receivers Michigan has in the class, and he’s physically more ready to play than the other two slot types (Chris Evans and Nate Johnson). Crawford could potentially transition outside as his game matures and other players matriculate through the program, but for now, I think he might provide some competition as an inside receiver. Michigan’s slot receiver in 2015 was Grant Perry, who may be on the track to being reliable but is not much of a physical specimen.

The receiver position aside, Crawford has said that Michigan is recruiting him as an athlete, someone who could play defensive back and/or special teams, too. Based on his physical skills, he could very well be the best corner in Michigan’s class right now (Antwaine Richardson and Sir Patrick Scott are both currently committed to the Wolverines).

Michigan’s 2016 class is now up to 24 commits in a class that is supposed to reach 27 players. The Wolverines have five wide receivers committed (Crawford, Evans, Johnson, Ahmir Mitchell, and Brad Hawkins), plus another commit that could play receiver (Kiante Enis). It’s a very versatile group, although there could be some attrition from the recruiting class before February. Crawford is friends with David Long, Jr., as mentioned above, so this could help Michigan’s pursuit of Long. The decommitment of Norco (CA) Norco quarterback Victor Viramontes earlier in this cycle means that Crawford would be Michigan’s first California signee since offensive tackle Erik Magnuson in 2012.

TTB Rating: 83 (ratings explanation)

12 comments

  1. Comments: 1133
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Jan 10, 2016 at 7:23 AM

    I keep wondering what a team that seemingly prefers tight ends and H backs to slot receivers needs with 3+ slot types coming in but ….. Harbaugh.

    I think somebody will be decommitting, I’m hoping it isn’t Brad Hawkins as I really like that kid as either a possession receiver or safety. Chris Evans says he’s coming, i really like him as well. Unfortunately, I like Nate Johnson too. But I’m pretty sure I’m going to be sad on one of them.

    Speaking of guys with some aggression toward defensive backs, Simeon Smith is vicious in that regard. Speaking of guys that are polished, he completely is not. But … what an interesting prospect. I’d be losing my mind thinking about where to try him. Red zone receiver for sure although he has to learn to get his hands up. A 6’6″ safety might be fun. I’m not sure how good his hips work, but I’d spend some time seeing if he can turn and run with big outside receivers. I’d probably try him everywhere, including rush end/linebacker even though he is a scrawny sucker. I think he’s got a chance.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3725
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Jan 10, 2016 at 2:02 PM

      Yeah – the number of WR recruited vs. number needed, especially when compared against the secondary tells you that some of these guys will move around.

      Long is a key recruit IMO because Michigan desperately needs to add some true cover corners.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2501
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 10, 2016 at 2:12 PM

      As for Evans, I would like to see Michigan give him a shot at running back first. I know he’s small, but he’s also quick. We could use some speed at the RB position, even if it’s only as a third down type of back. Drake Johnson only has one more year, and even he’s not a huge breakaway threat.

      I’m not nearly as excited about Simeon Smith as you are, but we’ll see how he works out. I have no problem giving him a preferred walk-on spot or anything, but he doesn’t stand out to me.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3725
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jan 10, 2016 at 3:08 PM

        I like the idea of giving Evans a shot at RB. We have so many guys who profile as potential slot WRs that it’d be good to have a speed back alternative to the power guys.

      • Comments: 1133
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        Roanman
        Jan 10, 2016 at 4:05 PM

        I too, would hand Evans the ball some. On the subject of handing Evans the ball, I really like Kiante Enis too. I know, I know, low level rural Indiana football, but he kicks butt against the guys that show up to play. I hope he makes it here.

        As for Smith. Loy Norrix football has been lame his entire career. As a matter of fact, I can’t remember Loy Norris ever being good at football. I don’t think he’s had any coaching at all. It looks to me like nobody has even taught him how to tackle ….. for sure not properly. But I see a big, stretchy, pretty athletic kid with a real mean streak and more than a little smarts. i’m pulling for him. Besides, he doesn’t cost us anything.

  2. Comments: 150
    Joined: 12/19/2015
    Extrajuice
    Jan 10, 2016 at 12:18 PM

    Liking the pick up. Seems like he could play early and be reliable. Magnus, where did you rank Crawford in comparison with the other current commits? Where does he rank with some of the guys we missed on like Corley and Pie Young (assuming he’s pushed out)?

    • Comments: 146
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      coachernie
      Jan 10, 2016 at 12:42 PM

      Impressive physically thats for sure, could play tomorrow and not look out of place.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2501
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 10, 2016 at 2:10 PM

      I’ve read that Pie Young could still be a part of the class. We’ll see. I don’t think he’s a need, and I would prefer to use that scholarship on another position. I had Crawford ranked above Young and below Corley.

  3. Comments: 146
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    coachernie
    Jan 10, 2016 at 12:34 PM

    I like this kid, I like him a lot. He will be All Big Ten before he leaves. He is an improved more talented versus of Grant Perry, quite obviously. Just hope he doesn’t have a problem with the ‘drops’ or he will be on the bench.

  4. Lanknows
    Comments: 3725
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jan 10, 2016 at 1:57 PM

    I’m glad we got Crawford, as he’s the kind of athletic WR I favor (rather than the taller slower “jump-ball” guys) but there’s some indicators mentioned above that indicate he’s a step or two off being an elite prospect despite elite athleticism. His offer sheet reflects that too. While he got everyone in the Pac12 (including the big ones in USC and Oregon), outside of that things were limited. Notre Dame and Oklahoma offers stand out but for an elite recruit there’s not much national attention.

    It’s hard not to contrast that with Donnie Corley when he’s a local kid who committed on the same day. Corley’s got offers from literally every program you could want offers from. I don’t care that the recruiting sites rank them similarly, their offer sheets indicate coaches see Corley as ELITE and Crawford as a step or too off.

    Again, I’m glad to have Crawford but it’s hard to not feel some disappointment when an elite local kid heads to MSU. In-state recruiting isn’t everything but it’s been disappointing this year and last. When Corley, Hayes, Weber, Webb, McDowell (all the truly ELITE prospects in-state) defect, that’s a failure of recruiting. Yes, it’s going to happen sometimes, but it’s been happening FAR too much lately. I was hoping Harbaugh would turn that around. Maybe next year. I’ll be watching the People-Jones recruitment closely. Thomas is the other local kid that maybe trending toward being elite.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2501
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 10, 2016 at 2:05 PM

      Yeah, Crawford doesn’t appear to be extremely elite, but he should be a good slot guy, I think. Generally, slot receiver types are not highly ranked. If I were looking for a big outside WR, I would prefer Corley.

      As for MSU, I’ve been interested for a while to see if all of their wide receivers stick in this class. Corley joins Cam Chambers, Justin Layne, and Trishton Jackson. That’s a lot of talent at one position, especially for a team that isn’t like Texas Tech, Washington State, etc., likes to use tight ends, fullbacks, etc. We’ll see what happens there. Not that I think Corley would get scared off, but maybe one of the other guys…

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3725
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jan 10, 2016 at 3:06 PM

        Your view of Crawford as more of a slot may be correct for now. Though if he lives up to his talent, you’d expect him to be an everydown player. I do think Oregon’s scholarship offer is particularly meaningful in that light.

        You might have a good point there about slots being generally underrated. The Rivals rankings seem to take NFL potential into the equation (which IMO they shouldn’t) – but their notion of “NFL potential” seems tilted towards the traditional (read: antiquated) physical prototype. Put another way: there’s a lot of 6’3 or taller guys in the top 20-30 of their rankings but the standouts seem to be shorter in most cases in recent years.

        Your points about MSU seem valid but would apply even more so to Michigan. For a guy like Corley, I don’t think you worry about it, but the others should be prepared to compete and/or end up in the secondary.

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