RALEIGH, N.C. --- As part of a defensive effort that shut out Fayetteville (N.C.) Cape Fear, 54-0, on Saturday night, North Carolina 2018 verbal commitment D.J. Crossen -- and his Greensboro Dudley teammates -- will add an NCHSAA 4A State Championship to his trophy case.
"I just felt like my defensive coordinator and our head coach put us in the perfect position to win," Crossen said. "I also would like to give a big shoot out to my D-line and the rest of the secondary."
Lining up at cornerback until the starters were pulled in the fourth quarter, Crossen, a 6-foot-1, 182-pounder, helped limit a previously undefeated Cape Fear squad to 108 total yards. Specifically, Crossen and company shutdown dual threat quarterback Justice Galloway-Velazquez.
"Mainly, we just got pressure on their quarterback," Crossen said. "We already knew their quarterback was a terrific athlete and a big body."
The offense put up enough points to win on their own, but Crossen contributed to the effort with a pick six.
"We were in basic cover-two," Crossen said. "The No. 3 receiver went to the flats, so I just jumped it on my instincts."
After jumping the pass and making the interception, there was nothing between Crossen and the end zone but grass. Thus, he ran half speed to pay dirt.
"I might have [purposely] jogged in," Crossen said with a smile. "Big players make big players in big games. I was just trying to do what was best for my team to get us a ring and that's what I did."
Although the jubilation of this championship has yet to subside, Crossen has already begun to think about next season.
"I'm already looking forward toward stepping up and being one of the main team leaders and try to get a repeat of this," Crossen said. "The seniors [this year] laid a pathway down for us. We just have to follow the tradition that we have going."
In his first season as a varsity starter, Crossen led the team with 12 pass breakups. Additionally, he made 64 tackles and intercepted three passes.
Crossen's production hasn't gone unnoticed. He added a scholarship offer from Wake Forest and has heard from Clemson, Florida State, Kentucky, and Penn State.
"I'm just taking the process as it is and trying to enjoy it," Crossen said. "But, I'm still Rude Boyz.
"Me and the Carolina coaches have already discussed this. They know I want to enjoy the process and all and going to games. But, they also know that I'm fully committed to them."
Crossen says he communicates with the UNC staff nearly every day. Most of that contact is with Charlton Warren, the Tar Heels' secondary coach.
"We're just trying to get a close relationship with each other and keep building upon that," Crossen said. "The more we communicate and the more games I come to I just feel more and more at home, honestly... I love it."
This past season, Crossen attended UNC's games against Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech.
"It's wonderful," Crossen said. "It feels at home, honestly. Once I saw how the players interacted with the coaches and up to the training staff, it's just love. It's all love."
While he's unsure exactly when, Crossen plans to return to UNC for a junior day.