Crawford Trying To Live Up To Hype

FAYETTEVILLE — London Crawford didn't show up at Arkansas in the summer of 2006 as a humble freshman willing to be seen, not heard.

Instead, the highly recruited wide receiver came in with a body covered with tattoos and a confident swagger that took many fans and reporters by surprise.

And Crawford immediately drew attention to himself by making several impressive catches in practice and then quite a few colorful comments to the media. But he admits now that he couldn't live up to his own hype.

"I was overconfident in myself, but I didn't reach the peak that I was at and then I started to go downhill," Crawford said following Tuesday's practice. "But now since I've got the coaches that I have, they are keeping me going on a straight path and going up."

While it has taken longer than Crawford expected, the junior is starting to live up to his potential and show the type of talent that could make him Arkansas' go-to receiver in the upcoming season.

Crawford proved during Saturday's second spring scrimmage that he's no longer bothered by the pulled left hamstring that slowed him down at the start of camp. He led the Razorbacks with eight catches for 107 yards, and he connected with quarterback Casey Dick on a pair of touchdown passes.

"He's getting better. I think the biggest thing with London is just the ability to get tougher," said Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, who also coaches the team's wide receivers. "Every day he's got to get tougher and fight through little ‘owees' and understand the difference between pain and injury."

Despite his obvious physical talents, Crawford got lost over the past two seasons in Houston Nutt's run-oriented offense, catching only 13 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns.

But the departure of Marcus Monk from last season has left the Razorbacks with plenty of receivers, but no No. 1 option.

To prepare for what he hopes will be a bigger role in Arkansas' revamped offense, Crawford spent much of the offseason catching passes from a ball machine and running through cones.

"We need London to be a player for us. He's a guy we can rely on to make the big play," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "Right now if you look at our receivers, he runs with the ball the best after the catch."

Petrino was no stranger to Crawford when Arkansas opened spring practice earlier this month. Coincidentally, Petrino and his younger brother tried to recruit the wide receiver when they were still at Louisville.

"I could have actually went there," Crawford said. "But good thing I didn't go there because I ended up with them anyway."

Even when Crawford was starring at Davidson High in Mobile, Ala., Paul Petrino said he could see a fast, athletic wide receiver who shined despite playing in an offense that didn't throw the ball much.

And over the past few months, the younger Petrino has gotten onto the junior about putting forth the work ethic needed to be a star.

"(He) definitely has the chance to be that guy," Paul Petrino said. "It's just a matter of how much hard work he'll put in."

As for Crawford's confidence, that's not a problem anymore.

"I feel like my confident level is past (what it was when I arrived), honestly," Crawford said.

London Crawford

Age: 21

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 200 pounds

Class: Junior

Hometown: Mobile, Ala.

Notable: Crawford had a limited role in Arkansas' offense last season, catching eight passes for 147 yards and one touchdown to go along with his four carries for 70 yards. His most infamous play, however, was when he fumbled without being touched late in a 41-38 loss at Alabama. As a freshman, Crawford had five receptions for 117 yards and two touchdowns.

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