Crowell gets attention after stellar combine

Despite being raised in a baseball/softball family, Connor Crowell of North Point (Waldorf, Md.) prefers sticking it to his opponents.

The 15-year-old football standout who made his varsity debut at age 13 recently posted the highest SPARQ Rating of the more than 1,500 athletes at the Nike Baltimore Combine.

The Crowell name may be familiar to fans of the Southern Maryland
Athletic Conference (SMAC). Connor's older sister, Clarisa, was the
Washington Post Player of the Year in softball during her junior and
senior seasons at McDonough (Pomfret, Md.). She went on to star at
Virginia Tech and is now an assistant coach on the Oklahoma State
softball team. In addition, Connor's older brother played two years of junior college baseball, and the Crowells had cousins -- one boy, one girl -- who played baseball and softball, respectively, at the University of Hawaii.

But when it came time for Connor Crowell to choose a sport, he discovered
baseball was not going to work.

"Around when I started doing coach-pitch [baseball], I couldn't hit the
ball," Crowell said. "I got mad and I started doing football. I just
started hitting everybody and I loved it."

It appears that Crowell chose wisely.

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound sophomore ran the fastest shuttle time (4.01), surprising even himself, in posting his top SPARQ Rating (121.02).

"I wasn't expecting to put those kind of numbers up," Crowell said. "I
had been working on my 40 [yard dash] the past couple months, but I
didn't expect to run all those [times]."

In addition to his shuttle, Crowell ran a 4.55 40-yard dash, leapt 32.7
inches in the vertical jump and had a kneeling power ball toss of 38 feet, 5 inches.

That performance, along with his play on the field last season, has major college coaches taking note.

According to Crowell's father, Richard, Penn State, Ohio State and
Maryland have expressed interest. Due to NCAA regulations, Crowell
cannot receive official offers until Sept. 1 of his junior season.

Crowell arrived at North Point and played his first varsity football
game at the age of 13 [his birthday is Sept. 28]. Head coach Ken Lane
knew Crowell was talented and anticipated the freshman's arrival on the
varsity team at some point during the season, but early season injuries
forced the promotion.

"You just knew [he was going to be good] because he was big, he could
move and he was aggressive," Lane said. "We knew it probably wouldn't be
long before we brought him up to varsity that year, just because we were
so young."

"At first I didn't really want to go up to varsity," Crowell said. "I
thought I was going to get demolished and it wasn't going to be fun for
me anymore."

Crowell did not get demolished.

According to Lane, on Crowell's initial varsity play during the second
week of the football season, the freshman ran down the field on the
opening kickoff and took out two players that formed the wedge on the
opposing team.

"We brought him up a little bit earlier than we expected, but after that
kickoff [the coaches] all looked at each other and knew we made the right
move," Lane said.

Crowell has been a starter for the Eagles from that point on in his career.

Heading into his sophomore season, Crowell worked on his speed and
strength and became one of the team's leaders on defense.

"On varsity everybody's faster and stronger and you just can't push
people around like you can in town ball or JV," Crowell said. "[Last
season] I wasn't getting pushed around as much as I was in ninth grade."

As the starting linebacker last season, Crowell recorded more than 70
tackles and eight sacks for a team that made the playoffs for the first
time in school history.

Even though Crowell is only 15 years old, he will be expected to take on
more of a leadership role for North Point during his junior season. The
Eagles graduated more than 40 seniors from a team that finished with an
8-3 record, had a win over eventual Class 3A state champion
Westlake (Waldorf, Md.) and made the Class 2A region semifinals.

"Sometimes I have to remind myself that he's 15 years old, because I can
forget. He's very mature," Lane said. "[But] his grade level doesn't
matter to me. … He's not one of the young guys on the team anymore. He's
got to become a leader."

"I'm definitely ready," Crowell added. "I was a leader on the defense
last year and I think I'm ready to take on that role for the whole team."

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