Inside is an in-depth breakdown of what Notre Dame is getting in four-star cornerback Shaun Crawford of Lakewood (Ohio) St Edward.
Location: Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward
Rank: Four-star, No. 9 rated cornerback, No. 67 overall
Ohio recruiting analyst, Bill Greene
WHAT IS THERE TO LIKE? People have known about Crawford for a years now, mainly because of the eye-popping track times put up as an eight-grader. The speed is a given. What Crawford proved last season as a sophomore was that he is not a track guy trying to play football. This is a football player, albeit one that can run very fast. His coverage skills on an island are good, but can be improved upon. Remember, this is a player with two years of high school remaining. His technique will only get better. He also proved that he will come up in run support and smack running backs.
WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS? There is only one major concern at this time, and that would be his height at 5-foot-9. If he were 6-foot tall he would be in contention for the top cornerback in the nation status. So far, he has shown the athletic ability and competitiveness to be able to overcome that factor. There are plenty of 5-foot-9 cornerbacks that have made a name for themselves. It remains to be seen if Crawford joins that group. I think he will. His coverage is good, usually overshadowed by his great catch-up speed if he does get beat. As he gets more reps, the technique will improve.
WHAT ARE THE INTANGIBLES? When I first saw Crawford, I envisioned a slot receiver, because he was so good with the ball in his hands. He can be a factor in the return game for Notre Dame
. Another asset with his skill set is when does intercept a pass, he is a threat to take it to the house. Crawford comes from a strong family, and that has to be taken into account these days. He knows the value of education, and it's not lip-service coming from him. Playing for St. Edward means he plays against the highest competition in Ohio, so the opportunity to get better over the next two seasons is very real.
WHO DOES HE COMPARE TO? At the high school level, Shaun Crawford
plays a game very similar to long-time NFL veteran Antoine Winfield. Crawford can disrupt a game with a big hit or an interception, while making a ton of tackles on the season.
"My visit to Notre Dame was really great and I really enjoyed it," Crawford said after his visit last July. "I went to Notre Dame on Friday, and it was my first time there. The campus was great and the coaching staff was amazing. The whole program seems like a big family, and I liked everything about Notre Dame. I got to sit down with the coaching staff, and they explained how they handle the recruiting process."
"I also got to take a tour of the campus, which was beautiful by the way. Overall, the visit was excellent and I was glad I went there. I definitely want to go back there sometime soon, but I don't have anything scheduled yet. We play every Saturday, but we do have a bye week this year, so I need to check and see if they have a home game that week."
"He takes criticism so well, and responds the right way, which shows his maturity level," said Crawford's head coach, Rick Finotti. "We are a tough school academically, and Shaun is carrying a 3.5 GPA, which really impresses me about him. Whether it's on the football field, the classroom, or the weight room, he is incredibly competitive."
"To me, that's what separates the good ones from the great ones," Finotti said. "He's so competitive, and it doesn't matter if it's a forty-yard dash or trying to get the best grade in math class. He's going to work his tail off to get where he wants to go, and I love that about him."
"I also love him in the return game, where he can get the ball in the open field and go," Finotti added. "Finally, he's a great teammate and while he's basically a quiet kid, he will argue about anything and the other kids love him. I love having him in our program, and the Michigan people will too."
What This Means for Notre Dame
Notre Dame added its second cornerback in the class of 2015 with the addition of Crawford. Three-star Nick Coleman
also hails from Ohio.
Notre Dame could be done recruiting the position, but should an elite prospect want to come on board, the staff could find room.
Top names in contention: Kendall Sheffield
, Iman Marshall
, Ykili Ross
, John Reid
, James Locke
Crawford was a big get for Notre Dame in more ways than one. As previously mentioned, the former Michigan commit did not pick up an offer during his visit to Notre Dame last summer. The reasoning, simple. His size did not appeal to former Irish defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. However, Brian VanGorder and Brian Kelly appear to have adopted a different approach in regards to defensive recruiting, opting for athleticism, intangibles, instincts, speed and potential over numbers on paper.
Notre Dame fended off Ohio State to ultimately land Crawford. In fact, Crawford cancelled an Ohio State visit after receiving a visit from the Notre Dame staff the day before he was scheduled to visit the Buckeyes about a month ago. From that point forward, he was Notre Dame's to lose, and the possibility that Crawford was a silent verbal to the Irish for a couple of weeks before going public with his commitment has merit.
A top ten prospect at his position, Crawford has the tools and work ethic to make a big splash at Notre Dame both on defense and on special teams.
Notre Dame's Cornerback Depth in 2014
Seniors - Josh Atkinson
, Cody Riggs
(Fifth year grad)
Juniors - Matthias Farley
(RS), Jalen Brown
(RS), Keivarae Russell
Sophomores - Devin Butler
, Cole Luke
Freshman - Nick Watkins