Crowell gets attention after stellar combine
Despite being raised in a baseball/softball family, Connor Crowell of North Point (Waldorf, Md.) prefers sticking it to his opponents.
The Crowell name may be familiar to fans of the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference (SMAC). Connor's older sister, Clarisa, was the Washington Post Player of the Year in softball during her junior and senior seasons at McDonough (Pomfret, Md.). She went on to star at Virginia Tech and is now an assistant coach on the Oklahoma State softball team. In addition, Connor's older brother played two years of junior college baseball, and the Crowells had cousins -- one boy, one girl -- who played baseball and softball, respectively, at the University of Hawaii.
But when it came time for Connor Crowell to choose a sport, he discovered baseball was not going to work.
"Around when I started doing coach-pitch [baseball], I couldn't hit the ball," Crowell said. "I got mad and I started doing football. I just started hitting everybody and I loved it."
It appears that Crowell chose wisely.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound sophomore ran the fastest shuttle time (4.01), surprising even himself, in posting his top SPARQ Rating (121.02).
"I wasn't expecting to put those kind of numbers up," Crowell said. "I had been working on my 40 [yard dash] the past couple months, but I didn't expect to run all those [times]."
In addition to his shuttle, Crowell ran a 4.55 40-yard dash, leapt 32.7 inches in the vertical jump and had a kneeling power ball toss of 38 feet, 5 inches.
That performance, along with his play on the field last season, has major college coaches taking note.
According to Crowell's father, Richard, Penn State, Ohio State and Maryland have expressed interest. Due to NCAA regulations, Crowell cannot receive official offers until Sept. 1 of his junior season.
Crowell arrived at North Point and played his first varsity football game at the age of 13 [his birthday is Sept. 28]. Head coach Ken Lane knew Crowell was talented and anticipated the freshman's arrival on the varsity team at some point during the season, but early season injuries forced the promotion.
"You just knew [he was going to be good] because he was big, he could move and he was aggressive," Lane said. "We knew it probably wouldn't be long before we brought him up to varsity that year, just because we were so young."
"At first I didn't really want to go up to varsity," Crowell said. "I thought I was going to get demolished and it wasn't going to be fun for me anymore."
Crowell did not get demolished.
According to Lane, on Crowell's initial varsity play during the second week of the football season, the freshman ran down the field on the opening kickoff and took out two players that formed the wedge on the opposing team.
"We brought him up a little bit earlier than we expected, but after that kickoff [the coaches] all looked at each other and knew we made the right move," Lane said.
Crowell has been a starter for the Eagles from that point on in his career.
Heading into his sophomore season, Crowell worked on his speed and strength and became one of the team's leaders on defense.
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As the starting linebacker last season, Crowell recorded more than 70 tackles and eight sacks for a team that made the playoffs for the first time in school history.
Even though Crowell is only 15 years old, he will be expected to take on more of a leadership role for North Point during his junior season. The Eagles graduated more than 40 seniors from a team that finished with an 8-3 record, had a win over eventual Class 3A state champion Westlake (Waldorf, Md.) and made the Class 2A region semifinals.
"Sometimes I have to remind myself that he's 15 years old, because I can forget. He's very mature," Lane said. "[But] his grade level doesn't matter to me. He's not one of the young guys on the team anymore. He's got to become a leader."
"I'm definitely ready," Crowell added. "I was a leader on the defense last year and I think I'm ready to take on that role for the whole team."
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Mike Loveday covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com. Mike can be reached at Michael.Loveday@espn.com
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