Signee Update: Aaron Crawford

Aaron Crawford intends to compete for playing time as a freshman defensive tackle this fall. To that end, he's spent the last few months shedding pounds.

North Carolina signee Aaron Crawford knew he had to slim down. In order to lose weight the right way, he decided to skip his senior wrestling season.

“I tried to do wrestling,” Crawford said. “But it was a lot of weight to drop in a short period of time. I knew if I had done it that way, it wouldn’t be in my best interests.”

When he officially visited UNC in January, Crawford, an Ashburn (Va.) Stone Bridge defensive tackle, tipped the scales at 330 pounds.

“At that time, they told me that they wanted me a little lower,” Crawford said. “I got down to 310 and I’m trying to get down to 305 by the time I step on campus.

“When [Keith] Gilmore was here, he stressed getting lower – he wanted me 300, maybe 305. But when Coach [Tray] Scott got here, he explained that as long as I was mobile and I could hunt with the weight that I’m at, then I can come in as heavy as I wanted to. But I feel like I’m best at 305 and then they could mold me the way they want me to when I get down there.”

There’s no real secret to how Crawford shed 20 pounds in four months – and will trim five more pounds in three weeks. He simply ate better and increased his exercise routine.

“I picked up my workouts a little more,” Crawford said. “I have two trainers that I go to. They both give me two different types of workouts. Combining those is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Like other signees, Crawford received a workout regimen from UNC’s strength and conditioning staff after Signing Day. He gave a copy to each of his trainers – Dave Mikeo of Performance Edge and Eddie Mason of MASE Training – and they’ve incorporated it into their respective workouts.

“I feel great,” Crawford said. “I have so much more energy. Even with adding in more workouts, I don’t feel tired at all throughout the day.”

As Crawford touched on, when he signed with UNC, Keith Gilmore was the Tar Heels’ defensive line coach. Since then, Gilmore left for Notre Dame and Tray Scott assumed his role on UNC’s coaching staff.

“[Scott and I] have been trying to develop a relationship a lot,” Crawford said. “We talk frequently – almost every week. It’s just little things – he’ll tell me that he saw something that reminded him of me, he’s excited to get me down there, stuff like that.

“It’s been great. I love him. I can tell he’s excited. I can tell by the fire in his voice that he really wants to fix the defense along with Coach [Gene] Chizik. And I can’t wait to start playing for him.”

Chizik, UNC’s new defensive coordinator, brings with him a fresh defensive scheme. Regardless, nothing changes for Crawford – he still projects to play nose guard.

“[Scott] said he’s giving me every opportunity to prove myself,” Crawford said. “If I’m ready, I’m going in there with him. If not, they’ll red-shirt me and develop me.”

Crawford wore No. 57 at Stone Bridge. Prior to Gilmore’s departure, he assured Crawford he could sport No. 92, which is vacant on UNC’s roster. Scott told Crawford that Gilmore’s promise will likely be honored.

“I know I wanted a 90 number and Haloti Ngata is one of my favorite players ever,” Crawford said. “To wear the same number as him, that would be special to me.”

Crawford, who has been deemed eligible by the NCAA Clearinghouse and has been admitted into UNC, will graduate from Stone Bridge on June 15. Less than 24 hours later, he’ll move into his Chapel Hill dorm which will be shared with Jake Bargas, Nathan Elliott, and Nick Polino.

“I hung out with Nathan a lot during the official and then we kept in contact through the process,” Crawford said. “I hit him up one day and we decided we wanted to be roommates. And then he had a relationship with Bargas and Bargas had a relationship with Polino, so it came together pretty well. Also, on the official Nick and I were the only two who were interested in the business program and we have the exact same schedule for summer classes.”

Crawford’s No. 1 goal is to leave UNC with a business degree.

“I’m just excited to get down there,” Crawford said. “I just want to get accustomed to the college life and prepare for Sept. 3.”

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