Crawford sorting through options

James Crawford holds scholarship offers from a number of schools, and is beginning to sort through his options. The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. defensive back may be getting close to a decision. offers the latest on Crawford's recruitment.

If James Crawford plays anything like his Heisman Trophy-winning uncle, Northwestern is within striking distance of landing a program-altering talent.

Crawford, a Fort Lauderdale (Fla) native, has received glowing praise of NU and its head coach from Charles Woodson, who played against Pat Fitzgerald at Michigan and considers the Wildcats' defense a "perfect fit" for his nephew.

"He [Woodson] really likes the way coach Fitz coaches, he likes his intensity," Crawford said. "He's told me the defense fits me well, and he likes what Northwestern is growing into."

Though he's only received four offers at this stage of his recruitment (UMass, Houston, Stanford and NU), Crawford is a known commodity at Florida powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas, where limited playing time and marginal test results have generated tepid interest from high-major powers.

Crawford is just now beginning to surface as an elite player at his position. Florida State, Wisconsin, Miami and Virginia Tech have all inquired about Crawford's services.

NU recognized his potential last spring, when coach Marty Long attended a spring workout and extended an offer. Long told Crawford he was impressed with his ability to not only exhibit tight coverage, but provide assistance in the run game at the line of scrimmage. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Crawford projects as a safety at the next level

"I had a good conversation with coach Long," he said. "We talked about what he liked from me. He definitely got me interested."

Since talking with Long at his high school, the two have remained in contact via email and conduct phone conversations on a weekly basis. Crawford expressed a desire to visit campus, but is unsure if/when he can make the trip before reaching a decision.

While academics are the main selling point, Crawford is intrigued with Fitzgerald and his potential role in the defense. He made sure to mention his perception of NU as a "rising" program.

He has not set a judgment deadline, but hopes to come to a conclusion sometime this year.

"I don't know when I'm going to commit," he said. "It depends on which offers I get and how I feel about everything."

At this point, Crawford maintains he would like to play in the Big Ten or the SEC. In the meantime, Crawford will continue to boost his stock at one of the best programs in the nation, with more offers likely in his future.

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