Though the scholarship offer came in April, L.D. Crow had been feeling the love out West from the Cardinal for a year. The story that culminated in Crow's verbal commitment to Stanford last night started last spring, when the Cardinal's recruiting coordinator and Florida area recruiter, Nate Hackett, took a strong interest in the sophomore quarterback. That might not sound unusual in the recruiting world, but Crow had yet to start a high school varsity football game at the time. The Cardinal recruiter saw a lot to like in the Sunshine State slinger, game experience be damned, and he implored the 2007 recruit to take a trip to The Farm. Crow had plans that summer to travel west for a Bob Johnson quarterback camp, so he accepted the invitation and arranged for a Stanford unofficial visit in early June
"Coach Hackett that spring had told me to come by," Crow describes. "I spent the whole day with him and really liked it. California has the same kind of weather as we have here, but not as humid. Stanford has nice weather and great facilities. They told me how they were building a new stadium. And it's a pretty historic place."
Hackett left for a job in the NFL the following winter, but not after a return to Clearwater (Fla.) Countryside High School in December and a letter writing storm to the quarterback. L.D. Crow may have been an unproven quantity the previous spring, but during his debut season as a junior in 2005, he threw for 64.3% (99-of-154) and 1,360 yards with 11 touchdowns against just two interceptions. All expectations were that Countryside would experience a dip on the field that fall, while Crow became acclimated to the sophisticated Cougars offense and futilely strived to fill the mammoth shoes of his predecessor, prep All-American Harrison Beck. Hackett had found a very good one for Walt Harris, and the Cardinal turned up the heat.
"They sent me a ton of letters, so they were one of my top choices since January," Crow reports. The Florida prep standout was so enthused that he planned another June trip to The Farm, this time to attend Stanford's football camp June 24-25. He expected he might still have something to prove then, or perhaps during his school's spring practices this month. Instead, the big news hit for him in late April.
"We were throwing a little seven-on-seven on the practice field, and Coach [John] Davis got a call from Stanford," Crow recalls. "I didn't know at the time that they were going to offer me. I knew Stanford was one of my top choices, so the offer was exciting. It was even better to get it before the start of spring practices."
"Stanford said that they wanted to make sure that I keep up my academics, with the application process recruits have to go through," he adds. "Getting the offer is not the end of the line. I still need to do some work."
Also the owner of offers from Rutgers and Florida International, Crow moved the Cardinal to number one on his list. He held Florida State as his second favorite behind Stanford, as he described to The Bootleg prior to his college commitment.
"Florida State is Florida State. They produce NFL players," he stated of the in-state suitor. "I talked with Coach [Daryl] Dickey. He said they like me on film, and they're coming down the week before the Nike Camp."
"FSU is a little closer to home, and people ask that all the time. 'Why not stay here with Florida State or Miami?'," Crow continued. "But I have no problem going away from home. I'm going to be in college. I'm not going to have time to see friends and family anyway."
Offers followed from Illinois and Middle Tennessee State. Then the Countryside slinger had a trio of visitors this past Friday at his school.
With the building attention and pressure, which is more acute for quarterbacks prior to their senior year than for any other recruited position, Crow decided with his family on Sunday to pull the trigger. He called Walt Harris on his cell phone and gave his commitment to the Cardinal.
"We felt that Stanford was the right place," the recruit comments on his decision. "I knew it was the right place to go. Stanford is a great place to get me prepared for life after football."
That L.D. Crow committed to Stanford was no great surprise. He made no mystery that the Cardinal were his top choice once they offered him. But why commit at this time?
"I didn't want to do it too early," Crow responds. "The latest it would have happened is June. I just felt ready. Now I can focus on my football team and my senior season goals. We could go undefeated - maybe win a state championship."
"For me, it's been a fun process," he says of his recruitment. "Though when you talk to each coach, it's like a different interview every day."
Though he had planned on taking another look at The Farm in June, the Florida thrower felt that all Stanford offered was too compelling to hold out any longer.
"Coach Harris has worked in the NFL and coached in college a long time. He's had a lot of success. He pretty much made Tyler Palko what he is today. He didn't have his best year this past year, but he had a great sophomore year with Coach Harris," Crow explains. "They run the West Coast Offense like we do here. We use the North Carolina State playbook as our offense, which is pretty complex. So is theirs."
"The weather is nice - sunny and not cold. And I am not going to be able to see my friends while I'm in college anyway," he adds. "The biggest thing for me is the academics. They are great. You get a great education at Stanford that helps you the rest of your life."
With a national recruitment, fast-rising reputation and an advanced high school offense that has him ready-made for the college game, Crow could be a recruit chomping at the bit for playing time his first year. He says, however, that he has no problem redshirting his first year, if that is in the cards with the Cardinal.
"T.C. Ostrander is a junior this year, and he'll be a senior when I come," Crow comments. "I'd have a pretty good chance of playing my sophomore or redshirt freshman year."
Before looking too far ahead, the Countryside quarterback is focused on his senior campaign in high school. The Cougars roared through most of the 2005 season, with Crow collecting an unblemished 9-0 record. Facing unheralded Lakewood High School, owners of a 1-8 record, it was unthinkable that the regular season finale would also bid farewell to the perfect season at hand. But Crow suffered an injury in the first quarter and was later taken to the hospital with internal bleeding. He sat out the next week's playoff opener, which Countryside also lost.
Spring football is serious business in Florida, and this "off-season" is all about improvement for Crow. He does not want to taste defeat to end his senior season. That November injury has since healed, and the 6'3" 215-pound gunslinger is firing on all cylinders.
At a combine setting, Crow might best first impress you with his quick release and his strong arm. He has great mechanics and throwing abilities. But he operates within a ball control offense that values efficiency, accuracy and decision making. Those are the areas where he is focused in 2006.
"Last year was my first time as a starter," he says. "This time I'm more familiar with the offense. I know the players, and I'm more familiar with the position. The biggest improvement I've seen is making my reads and reading defenses."
The Cardinal's newest commitment will be on display this Friday evening when he takes his team to Ocala Trinity Catholic High School for a much-anticipated Spring Game against the 2005 Class 2B state champions. Scout.com Florida recruiting analyst Mike Bakas is making a trip to the game to watch Crow duel against Trinity's John Brantley, who is one of the top quarterbacks in the 2007 class and an April commit to Texas. Bakas will bring us a report on the game and how Stanford's next big gun performs.
In addition to the football on his plate, Crow is tending to his academic affairs. He knows that he still has work ahead of him to follow through on his Stanford commitment.
"When I called Coach Harris, he was real excited. He wanted to congratulate me," the recruit recounts. "But at Stanford, it's all about the grades. I have to get into the school. I have a 4.0. That's no problem. School has come easy for me. My [April 1] SAT was a 1090 on the 1600 scale. It's a 1610 out of 2400. That probably needs to be a little higher, and I'll take it again."
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