ROCKINGHAM — When Tyrone Crowder’s cell phone rings, most of the time there’s a college coach on the other end.
The offensive lineman is becoming one of Richmond Senior’s biggest recruits since Melvin Ingram in 2007 or Dannell Ellerbe and Jamar Bryant three years before that.
Ingram attended South Carolina and was an All-America selection for the Gamecocks last season. Ellerbe and Bryant both inked with Georgia in 2004, but Bryant ended up at East Carolina after spending a season at Hargrave Military Academy. Ellerbe is now with the Baltimore Ravens.
Crowder has nine scholarship offers and is seemingly adding more each day. The latest to try and woo Crowder to its campus for the 2013 season are Auburn and Maryland. The offers from the Tigers and the Terrapins came on Valentine’s Day. Previously, national champion Alabama, Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee have extended offers to Crowder.
He is not the only Richmond junior drawing interest from Division I football programs. Defensive end Devontae Covington received a scholarship offer from East Carolina. Offensive lineman Alex Norton and running back Dakwa Nichols have attended a handful of Junior Days, but haven’t been offered a scholarship yet.
“It feels good because you know you are doing a good job in the classroom and on the football field,” Crowder said about the interest in him. “If you get good grades, coaches see that you can get the job done in the classroom which means you won’t have a problem getting good grades in college.”
The 6-2, 315-pound junior received his offer from the Crimson Tide during a visit on Junior Day last month. Crowder said he toured the campus, the dorm rooms, the academic center and the football facilities before meeting with the coaching staff.
“I talked to some coaches, the offensive line coach (Jeff Stoutland) and the defensive line coach (Chris Rumph),” Crowder said. “Then Coach (Nick) Saban offered me. It was crazy, I didn’t think it would happen. I was surprised.”
A few weeks later, he traveled to Chapel Hill and met new North Carolina coach Larry Fedora. Crowder said he was recruited by Butch Davis’ staff, but Fedora was happy to extend a scholarship offer.
“It was my first time meeting Coach Fedora, he’s a good guy,” Crowder said. “They told me to just take everything in and have a good time. I called Coach (Chris) Kapilovic and he put me on the phone with Coach Fedora and he offered me then.”
Crowder plans to make at least two more visits this spring: Stanford (next month) and Clemson (in April).
Right now, Crowder said no school is ahead of the others in the recruiting race.
A native of Wadesboro, Crowder and his family moved to Greer, S.C. before sixth grade. Crowder made his way to Rockingham at the end of his freshman year. Despite living near Clemson for three years, Crowder says it won’t sway him when it comes time to choose.
Crowder said: “Whenever I feel it is right and I like the school, I will make my decision and commit. There are no favorites.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org