"I have been to two or three (Ole Miss) games since I have been at MSU," said the former headstrong Rebel fan. "It was kind of odd at first because when I heard the music and the cheering it brought back a little of those old feelings. But, as the game went on, I found myself cheering for whoever was playing against Ole Miss."
Almost every fan of any school finds themselves following and cheering for the team that their parents follow. The same is true for Crawley, only the feeling runs a little bit deeper.
"My great-aunt is the person that came up with the nickname Ole Miss," recalled Crawley who now finds himself bleeding maroon. "The school was having a contest to pick a nickname for the school while she was there, and she thought of Ole Miss. She entered it and won."
That is not the only tie with the University of Mississippi that has clouded Crawley's vision as he has reached maturity. His grandfather, David Crawley Jr., played baseball for the Rebels and remains a diehard Ole Miss fan to this day.
"He (Crawley's grandfather) still has season tickets on the 50 yard-line at Vaught Hemingway Stadium," said Crawley of his family ties to The University of Mississippi. "There were people in my family that really did not like the decision I made to come to State. But, they are family and they still love me."
Although growing up a Rebel fan pushed Crawley to attend Ole Miss out of high school, differences with the coaching staff sent him looking in other directions.
"I had a few problems with the coaching staff at Ole Miss when I was a senior. They really did not tell me the truth," Crawley said of his decision to look to other schools. "I knew I could play D-I ball and if I couldn't I did not want to play anything else. I talked to Coach Sherrill, and he told me they wanted me to come and walk-on. He said if I worked hard I had a chance to earn a scholarship. And he has stuck by his word."
While he grew up a Rebel, Crawley also focused on being a Patriot. Crawley, a Louisville, Miss. native, helped to start one of the greatest dynasties in Mississippi Private School history as a member of Winston Academy. Starting with Crawley's senior season, Winston won four consecutive state championships before being beaten this year.
"I really do not take credit for starting all of that. We had a lot of talent on those teams," said the humble Crawley. "Coach Mark Hudspeth, who is now the offensive coordinator at Navy, really should get all the credit. He brought in our offense and that started everything."
While he might not take credit for getting the ball rolling at Winston, Crawley did get some notice for his work during high school. Crawley was named the most outstanding offensive player of the year by the Meridian Star and chosen to the MPSA all-star game. During the all-star game, Crawley posted 214 yards receiving on eight catches which earned him the game MVP.
"The area player-of-the-year award was something that I took pride in because that included all of the public schools in the area," said Crawley of his awards. "Those things help to give you confidence and help to push you forward."
During his prep career, Crawley averaged 30 yards per punt return as well as posting 1,300 yards receiving. While at State he has been limited to special teams duty, but understands his role on this team.
"A lot of times I am not going to make the play," Crawley said of his role on the special teams units. "On kickoffs I am the safety so I try to force the returner to the other side and make sure they do not break a big return. I try to think, 'where would I go,' while I am on kickoff coverage."
While he may be seen on the kickoff team, Crawley hopes to never be noticed in his other role. "John Michael (Marlin) and I were talking about this the other day. The holder never gets seen except by his family," Crawley said. "The only time that the holder gets seen is when something goes wrong with the kick. Rob Morgan was really the first to get any credit for holding kicks. He held some really big kicks. He was one of the best at that position."
While Crawley is listed as a wide receiver, he has yet to make an entrance into a game at that position. That fact does not stop him from working hard in practice where he has earned a reputation for not every dropping a pass.
"It is my job to go out and practice as hard as I can every play, if I don't, then I am cheating this team," said Crawley. "I take pride in everything that I do, that is something that has pushed me this far."
Pride might have been a driving factor for his life and football career, but on Thanksgiving night pride was about all there was left to play for. "We just wanted to finish strong and build for next year."
And that is exactly what he and his teammates did.
Grant Alford is a free-lance correspondent for Gene's Page. He is a student at Mississippi State University. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.