Accolades justified for Crowder

Tyrone Crowder is a perfect fit for the Under Armour All-America Game.

Ask any of the event's organizers, and he or she will say there is one thing they place a high priority on -- elite, versatile linemen. It's pretty much a must. Linemen in the annual event might be asked to play a number of positions.

Crowder can do that. The 6-foot-2, 325-pound prospect currently is playing right tackle but easily can play guard or center, where he likely will play in college. Crowder also is elite. The ESPN 150 prospect is rated the 97th overall prospect in the country and the second-best offensive guard.

"It's great," Crowder said before being officially selected Wednesday during a ceremony at his school, where he was presented with his jersey as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game. "I'm really excited about it. It lets me know that the hard work I've done has paid off."

Much of that hard work has taken place in the weight room. Crowder now bench presses 325 and squats 565.

"I'm way stronger than I was last year, way stronger," the four-star prospect from Rockingham (N.C.) Richmond said.

The strength has helped. Crowder is more physical than he was a year ago, and his pass protection is better than last year. His coach, Paul Hoggard, has noticed the improvement as his star pupil has helped the school to a 4-0 record.

"[He] just knows the game a little better," Hoggard said. "He's a year older. A little more experienced. He's playing pretty well."

Crowder isn't expected to announce a college decision anytime soon. He has said he'll likely wait until national signing day in February to commit publicly. He also hasn't set any official visits but has named four finalists.

Clemson figures to be in the picture until the very end of Crowder's recruitment. He said he's drawn to the area partly because he has family from there."I like that program a lot and what they're doing down there," Crowder said.

Georgia also seems to be in good shape. The Bulldogs have made Crowder a priority, and he's noticed. "It's good," he said. "It lets me know that I'm high on their board and I'm what they want."

Stanford is the only school not in the southeast among Crowder's finalists. Clearly, there is a draw from an academic standpoint to head west. "I know it's a long way, but I don't think distance is a top priority for me," Crowder said.

Crowder expressed strong interest in North Carolina this summer. Now, with the school dealing with various off-field issues, some prospects are looking elsewhere. Not Crowder, who is rated as the top prospect in the state.

"I'm not really concerned about that," Crowder said of the allegations of academic abuse and possible extra benefits extended to athletes. "I've got faith in them to get all that fixed."

Crowder can worry about that later. For now, he'll focus on finishing his senior year and competing in the Under Armor All-America Game. Crowder already has a working knowledge of the event. His cousin, tailback Stephone Anthony, competed in the event in 2011.

"He said he had a lot of fun and got to meet a lot of people and when you get down there just enjoy it," Crowder said, adding that the competition should be a strong test. "It's an honor to be put against the other top players and go against them."

Hoggard is happy for Crowder and his program. The publicity should certainly benefit the school.

"Through history, our program has had a lot of success," Hoggard said. "I guess our reputation is pretty good. This can only help it -- a little more national exposure, so we're excited about it."

So is Crowder -- not to mention event organizers at the Under Armour All-America Game.