Crawford Eager for Return Visit

Outside schools have continued their pursuit of Aaron Crawford, despite the four-star defensive tackle’s five-month-long verbal commitment to North Carolina.

Specifically, Penn State came on strong early on, but has tapered off in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Boston College’s and Northwestern’s recruitment of Crawford, a 6-foot-1, 317-pounder from Ashburn (Va.) Stone Bridge, has remained constant.

“I’m definitely firm in my commitment – I don’t want to be one of those guys that commits and visits other schools,” Crawford said. “But I’m trying to keep contact with as many people as possible, because I don’t want to burn any bridges.”

Keeping bridges intact became even more important for Crawford after seeing what Kenneth Wainstein’s investigation uncovered.

“I’m curious to see how it plays out,” Crawford said.

Crawford said he is concerned both by the potential of new NCAA sanctions, as well as the stain the discoveries have left on UNC’s academic reputation.

“It was disturbing with the findings,” Crawford said. “My family was really hurt that it was found in the African-American studies. But we’re trying to stay as strong as possible and see how it plays out before we make any drastic decisions.”

Crawford has expressed his concerns to the UNC staff.

“They keep reassuring me that the football program will be safe,” Crawford said. “This staff came in as this [investigation] was ending.”

After a couple of spring visits to Chapel Hill, Crawford verbally committed to UNC in late May. He returned to campus in June for Fedora’s Freak Show.

“I didn’t really feel much different, because I always felt comfortable by the entire community there,” Crawford said. “I was more happy looking around and seeing places that I’ll be able to go – even more so then when I was visiting as just a recruit before.”

The Freak Show also provided Crawford an opportunity to work out under the guidance of Keith Gilmore, UNC’s defensive line coach.

“It really gave me some great insights into how it would be when I get down there,” Crawford said. “I liked working with him and I can’t wait to get to it.”

Crawford plans to return to UNC during the Thanksgiving weekend when the Tar Heels host archrival NC State. It will be his first live UNC football game.

“First things first, I want to see us get the win,” Crawford said. “And then I want to look at how the D-line works up-close and the atmosphere.”

From afar (i.e. on TV or the internet), Crawford has watched almost every UNC game. He did miss Saturday’s exciting victory over Virginia because of a family conflict.

“There’s been some ups and downs,” Crawford said of UNC’s season. “The defense is starting to perform now. It wasn’t always consistent.

“Offensively, Marquise [Williams] is really kind of coming into his own. It’s kind of cool to see him make plays. Him and [Ryan] Switzer are two of my favorite players to watch on the offense.”

Gilmore and area recruiter Seth Littrell teamed up to secure Crawford’s commitment. Both have remained equally in contact with Crawford following his pledge.

“It’s a lot of checking in and seeing how I’m doing,” Crawford said.

“Gilmore, last time I talked to him, said there’s an opportunity to get some P.T. because they have limited depth at nose [tackle], which is where they want me to play. If I come down there and work my ass off, I’ll most likely see the field [as a freshman].”

Although Stone Bridge relies primarily on his D-line play, Crawford sees significant reps on offense. He’ll line up along the offensive line and even at fullback in certain packages to open up holes for running backs.

Stone Bridge is 6-2 – with the two losses coming by ten total points – and looking to make a deep playoff push.

Aaron Crawford Profile

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