It’s not like Marcus Crowley was an unknown quantity.
He was a backup running back on the varsity team as a freshman and sophomore at Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida. Playing that early is no small feat at a place that produces college football players every single year like Trinity Christian does.
That lineage also includes a pair of current Buckeyes in redshirt freshman cornerback Shaun Wade and true freshman cornerback Tyreke Johnson.
As a junior, Crowley began to take ownership of the position and rushed for 1,210 yards on 197 attempts (6.1 ypc) in 12 games. He had four games of at least 160 yards rushing and scored 12 touchdowns on the season.
As a senior, however, ownership turned to domination.
In 14 games, Crowley (6-1 200) rushed for 2,325 yards on 222 carries (10.5 ypc), scoring 28 touchdowns. He hit the 100-yard mark in his final nine games and only failed to hit 100 yards three times — all blowout wins.
Crowley went over 200 yards rushing in a game five times this past season and had three carries of over 90 yards.
Following his junior season, Crowley committed to the University of Miami, and rebuffed offers from Florida and Alabama. He visited Miami routinely throughout 2018, and then around the middle of October, Ohio State offered.
Soon after that offer, Miami visited Crowley. Soon after that visit, OSU running backs coach Tony Alford visited Crowley. Two weeks later, Crowley was taking an official visit to Ohio State and the writing was on the wall for the Hurricanes.
Following his official visit, Crowley committed to the Buckeyes, and this past Wednesday he signed his OSU letter of intent and will enroll at Ohio State next month.
Things moved quickly for all involved, which is apt for a talented runner like Crowley.
“When he came up on the radar, especially after having the season that he had, we jumped all over him, and we’re really excited about him,” OSU head coach Ryan Day said on signing day.
While the numbers and highlights were eye opening after just a month or so, it was where these things were happening that first intrigued Day.
“Comes from a great program,” he said. “Shaun Wade and Tyreke Johnson both come from the same high school. Much respect for all the coaches there and what they do with their program. So that was the first thing.”
Succeeding against top competition is a fair indication of future results, and the results that Crowley was putting on opponents was impossible to ignore.
With 200-yard game after 200-yard game, he continued to dominate the opposition.
So while playing at a place like Trinity Christian Academy may have been the first thing Ryan Day liked about him, the results were impossible to ignore.
“Second thing, he was Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Florida, and that’s saying something.,” Day said. “He had a great year. He’s a big back. We think he’s got great potential.”
Day will get to see that potential first-hand starting next month when Crowley enrolls at Ohio State and gets into the weight room.
With Mike Weber leaving early for the NFL, there will be an opportunity for a young running back to earn some playing time next season.
Don’t be surprised if that player is Marcus Crowley.