Crabtree Assembling His 'Pro Staff'

DALLAS -- One of Michael Crabtree's NFL's idols is Michael Irvin. So as the Texas Tech receiving star – likely to be a top-five pick in the upcoming NFL Draft – orchestrates his future, how better than to emulate Irvin than to hire the same guy who was once "The Playmaker's personal assistant?

We've learned that the All-America Crabtree's plans to turn pro are now so solid that he is meticulously mapping out his NFL-bound steps. Part of that includes keeping his options wide open, of course. Therefore, publically, the two-time Biletnikoff Award winner is still telling the media in Lubbock that he might return for his junior season with the Red Raiders. (And he's certainly doing and saying all the right things as he readies for Tech's Cotton Bowl appearance Friday against Ole Miss.) But behind the scenes? He's already hooked up with Deion Sanders as a training mentor; we're told he'll participate in Sanders' "Prime U'' workout camps at SMU as an NFL Combines preparatory course. He's already been befriended by Deion and by Irvin, the players he emulated while he attended Dallas' Carter High School.

And now, most tellingly, he's planning to employ Anthony "Paco'' Montoya to serve as a "personal assistant.''

"Michael Crabtree is like Michael Irvin in terms of work ethic and talent,'' says Paco in our exclusive visit, and he makes no secret of his assumption that Crabtree is going pro. "But there is a big difference: Michael Crabtree doesn't go out, doesn't drink, does do that, you know, 'social' stuff that Michael Irvin did. Crabtree doesn't have those flaws or those demons.''

Beyond Paco's on-the-record assertions, there isn't much between-the-lines interpretation to do here; if you are planning to attend another year of classes, you don't hire a "personal assistant.''

Paco says Crabtree has a "staff of advisors'' that is essentially made up of family members. That group includes his father, who has hinted of the young man's move to the NFL, where some are hailing Crabtree as the next Andre Johnson, the breakout receiver of the Houston Texans.

Now, back in Irvin's day, Paco's work as a "personal assistant'' meant he knew where all the bodies were buried. (That's a colloquialism with most people; with Irvin, of course, there really might be some bodies buried somewhere.) Maybe Paco's experience with NFL pitfalls will help Crabtree avoid the same.

When you watch Texas Tech play in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2, you will almost certainly be watching Michael Crabtree play his final college football game. And if you look over there on the Red Raiders side, you might spot Deion, Irvin and Paco, all helping Crabtree ready himself for the next level.

And if you are watching as a Cowboys fan, you are forgiven for hoping that one of Team Crabtree's goals is to figure out how to end up in the uniform once worn by his hometown heroes from Dallas.

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