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Brandon Crawford, Good Story, Great Prospect

Credit: A. J. Mast for The New York Times

Any Ball State fan, or any football watcher who had the privilege of catching the Cardinals over the last couple years is familiar with Brandon Crawford. His story, of military service, being an older than normal student, and his path that led him to Muncie, Coach Hoke, and the Cardinals is one of those feel-good goosebumpy human interest pieces that sideline reporters and gameday pundits brought up in between comments about Dan Lefevour. Thankfully, just days away from the NFL Draft on Thursday evening, the rest of the world is beginning to take notice.

The attention for Crawford began in earnest last week as The Old Gray Lady, (or the New York Times) ran a piece on Crawford and his journey.  Since the NY Times has also referenced OTP in their preview piece on the Cardinals last summer, clearly they are a bastion of knowledge and football acumen.

Of note, for me at least, was this statement from Reed Johnson, a former personnel executive for the Atlanta Falcons. “He’s got the intangibles you’re looking for; you just wish he was 23. Maybe he’s on a developmental squad. But what are you developing at 33 years old? You have to make that decision where you want to spend your money.”

While in theory I agree that perhaps there is better upside by spending money on a young prospect which may blossom into something usable, to me there is considerably more risk as well. In the risk-reward game of professional athletics, I would think that the sure bet of work ethic, discipline, and drive would trump the problems which may accompany someone younger.

As if the NY Times wasn’t a big enough stage for Crawford, the Kansas City Star also ran a profile piece on him Sunday. While surprising in and of itself that a paper in Kansas City would profile someone from Ball State University, it is perhaps even more surprising that the author of the column wasn’t BSU’s own Jason Whitlock. JW makes it a point to champion the Cardinals wherever he goes or publishes, and I have to hand it to the KC Star for doling this piece out to another reporter. Had Whitlock been the scribe, it would have been cast aside as another fan-driven BSU column and lost a small bit of credibility. I would imagine that JW also realized this, and if so and he voluntarily passed, then he did a favor to Crawford. Props to JW.

So here we sit in a much different place than last spring, where the questions about the draft status of Cardinals like Nate Davis and Robert Brewster weren’t so much a matter of “if”, but very much a matter of “when”. This year, that’s quite the opposite. As the draftniks and pundits roll on to Thursday, their common mantra will be that a player doesn’t have to convince 32 teams he’s worthy of a pick, he only has to convince one. For Crawford, let’s hope one of these teams sees the light.

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