A Wiser Crawford Takes Different Approach

FAYETTEVILLE — As Arkansas wide receiver London Crawford walked off the practice field late last week, he was stopped by fans seeking his autograp

One young fan, in particular, asked Crawford to sign his red, rubber football. As he did, the fan's father asked Crawford to also write down the number of touchdowns he was going to score this upcoming season.

The sophomore, whose body is covered in tattoos, has never shied away from making bold statements. But this time he did. He smiled and simply autographed the football without making any predictions.

"Nah, I didn't write down how many touchdowns I wanted to have, but it's not about how many touchdowns I have," Crawford said, walking through Reynolds Razorback Stadium on his way to the team locker room. "It's about winning."

Crawford admitted he had a much different approach a year ago when he arrived at Arkansas as a highly recruited, highly entertaining freshman wide receiver.

Plenty of hype surrounded Crawford during his first preseason camp with the Razorbacks. He had appeared with five other top recruits on the ESPNU reality show, "Summer House."

And Crawford announced his arrival at Arkansas last August by making several impressive catches in his first few practices. He was also a media darling with his funny, boastful remarks.

But that's not who the wide receiver is anymore.

"I'm more into the (idea) of being with the team now than I was when I came in," Crawford said. "When I first came in, I just wanted to be kind of seen like every other freshman does."

Crawford had a limited role in Arkansas' offense last season, catching only five passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns. All but 31 of those yards came on two receptions, including a 45-yard score in a 38-3 win over Ole Miss.

But over the next few weeks, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound sophomore will get more of a chance to show what Arkansas' coaches saw in him as a star wide receiver from Mobile, Ala.

Crawford was listed as a co-starter at flanker heading into preseason practice, but he has been moved to split end to help make up for the temporary loss of senior Marcus Monk to a knee injury.

"We've moved London Crawford over to split end, because we feel like probably at this point in time (from) watching him that he, Reggie (Fish) and Robert (Johnson) are probably our top three (wide receivers) with Marcus gone," Arkansas offensive coordinator David Lee said.

"You've got to get your best players on the field, so we moved him from the flanker spot over there to the split end spot, and we'll see how he does. It's just a brand-new move; he's got to go learn everything (this) week."

Crawford didn't catch a pass during Arkansas' first preseason scrimmage Saturday night, but he showed his speed by taking the handoff on a reverse and gaining eight yards.

One of the knocks against Crawford last season was that he couldn't get off the line of scrimmage, but he's been working on his fundamentals in practice. He hopes to show coaches that he can be the No. 2 or No. 3 wide receiver that the Razorbacks lacked a year ago.

Arkansas wide receivers coach Alex Wood has shied away from talking too highly about his relatively young and unproven wide receiving core. He stuck to that policy when asked about Crawford's development.

"They're all working real hard," Wood said with a smile.

Crawford said the rumors about him transferring after last season weren't true. Sure, he doesn't know exactly what his role on the team is yet, but he insisted he's willing to accept whatever it is.

"When you come in (as) a freshman, everybody wants to score touchdowns. Everybody wants to be the man. Everybody wants the best for themselves," Crawford said. "But ... when you get in a groove with team work, it doesn't matter who scores a touchdown."

London Crawford

Age: 20

Size: 6-foot-2, 200 pounds

Class: Sophomore

Hometown: Mobile, Ala.

How Crawford Fared Last Season

Opponent Rec Yds TD

USC 0 0 0

Utah State 0 0 0

Vanderbilt 2 45 0

Alabama 0 0 0

Auburn 0 0 0

SEMO 1 15 1

Ole Miss 1 45 1

ULM 0 0 0

South Carolina 0 0 0

Tennessee 0 0 0

Miss. State 0 0 0

LSU 0 0 0

Florida 1 12 0

Wisconsin 0 0 0

Total: 5 117 2

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