Huntington (W.V.) High struggled to a 1-9 record this past fall, despite having one of the best players in the state at the controls of the offense.
"Our coach didn't become the coach until July," Craig Crawford began to explain. "They fired the old coach in May, and couldn't find a new one. Our new coach, he's only 25-years old and a bunch of the parents didn't like him. It was just a big mess. Kids quit at the beginning, transferred, our seniors acted out, it was a crazy year. We were in every single game, we just couldn't finish.
"It was pretty hard, I'm not going to lie, to keep my cool during this year."
Head coach Zach Wilson saw that it wore on the talented Crawford, who was normally known to always be singing, dancing or rapping to lift the spirits of his teammates and coaches around him.
"He grew up a lot going through what we went through last year," Wilson said. "It was tough on him because he is very competitive. You're supposed to take it personal when you lose. He invests a lot into it and I think its going to make him a better ballplayer down the road for going through it."
The road the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Crawford is on, leads to a major Division-I university.
Wake Forest appears close to offering. Notre Dame, Penn State, Vanderbilt, Purdue, West Virginia, Marshall, Kentucky, Alabama and Ohio State are all showing interest in the athlete with 4.4 speed. Though Crawford plays quarterback on the high school level, he is being recruited as either a receiver or a safety.
As a junior, Crawford threw for 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns, while tossing just four interceptions. He also ran for 500 yards and seven more scores while battling turf-toe all season.
"He's a tremendous athlete," Wilson stated. Crawford played receiver and safety as a sophomore, helping Huntington earn a berth in the state playoffs. "He has a lot of natural quickness and speed and jumping abilities. There is a lot of things he can offer on the next level as a quarterback, wide receiver or safety. There is all kinds of things he can do."
This past season, Crawford tried to soothe the pain of losing on Friday night, by taking unofficial visits the next day. He went and saw games at Kentucky, West Virginia, Alabama, Wake Forest and Ohio State. Crawford also went to the Deamon Deacons recent junior day, and will visit Marshall today.
One place Crawford has been unable to make it to is Notre Dame. The Irish coaching staff invited him to every game this past season. A representative from the University called Wilson and asked for a copy of Crawford's film and transcripts.
"I know a lot about Notre Dame," Crawford said. He has a 3.1 GPA. "I know they got 11 National Championships, and they got that nice recruiting class up there. The academics are good."
Crawford hopes to camp at Notre Dame among other places this summer.
"During the summer, I'm going to workout on my own time doing defensive drills and wide receiver drills," Crawford said. "When I go to camps, I'm going to work out at different positions. I'm not going to work out at quarterback."
Crawford stated that he doesn't care what side of the ball he ends up on in college, as long as he gets to play.
"I'll be looking at the academics and if I can play," he said. "If they graduate their players and everything."
While his college future will definitely be on his mind, Crawford is focused on getting Huntington back into the state playoffs again.
"We should be good with me and our whole offensive line coming back," Crawford said. "But we're going to have to make some skills guys. We have two returning skill guys. We had some freshmen that played for us last year. We should be pretty good, especially on offense."