Back in early December of 2017, Marcus Crowley committed to the University of Miami.
As a Jacksonville product from Trinity Christian Academy, it was no surprise that Miami was a lure.
A few months later, Alabama would extend an offer, but Crowley remained solid.
Eventually, the football season began and Ohio State found themselves in need of another running back in their 2019 class. They scoured the country — but didn’t have to look too hard to find Crowley, who attended the same school as current Buckeyes Shaun Wade and Tyreke Johnson.
Once the coaching staff landed on Crowley, they went after him with all guns blazing. They offered in him October, then OSU running backs coach Tony Alford visited him a couple of weeks later. A couple of weeks after that, Crowley took an official visit to Ohio State, decommitted from Miami, and then committed to the Buckeyes.
Despite the senior-year drama, Crowley remained focused and rushed for 2,325 yards, doubling his junior year performance. He was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Florida.
Crowley was a 4-star prospect and the No. 26 running back in the 247Sports Composite.
He graduated early and took part in winter conditioning and spring football for the Buckeyes.
What To Like
Marcus Crowley has tremendous vision and a great feel for running in traffic. He is patient when necessary and in a hurry when needed. He is just as comfortable stretching a play wide as he is bursting into the hole like the Kool-Aid Man.
The first carry in this highlight video showcases his patience and vision, and also exhibits just how comfortable he is on a football field with 11 defenders tasked with taking him down.
The second run in the video shows the kind of tough inside runner he will need to be in Ohio State’s downhill offense.
Some question Crowley’s top-end speed, but he rarely got caught from behind last season against very good competition. Also, with as much as he relies on vision and feel, playing too fast can be a drawback.
The first play on the video below is a good example of Crowley playing at a proper pace and not hitting things too fast. He hits the hole and then immediately is able to adjust when there is a defender there. Then around the 50-yard line he was under control enough to cut back inside for a much bigger gain.
The second play shows his ability to find daylight in the darkness between the tackles. The third play showcases his vision and determination.
Crowley held his own personal home-run derby last season, so he’s fast enough to keep a defense on its heels.
He’s also a tough runner who brushes off weak tackle attempts.
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds by Ohio State, he has been called a “big back.” He’s not there yet, but certainly has a frame that can handle more weight.
The Ohio State strength program will get him stronger, and his determination will fit in just fine with the Ohio State requirements.
The starting job could be wide open next season. Consider 2019 an audition for several Buckeye running backs.
This is as deep as Ohio State has been in a long time in terms of runners.
Marcus Crowley went through the spring, so that will give him a leg up on classmate Steele Chambers.
However, the Buckeyes still have JK Dobbins, Demario McCall, and Master Teague at the top of the running back depth chart, and this year quarterback Justin Fields will also command some carries.
In other words, there aren’t many carries available for a true freshman down the depth chart. Crowley should still see action in early games, just as Teague did last season. Carries against Florida Atlantic and Miami (OH) would not be a surprise.
The Bottom Line
Crowley will have the opportunity to show that he needs more carries than the 17 that Teague received last year, but that’s a pretty good number to start with.
Aside from JK Dobbins — which required some lax recruiting and an injury to the starter, true freshmen just haven’t gotten too many touches of late at Ohio State. Demario McCall had 53 touches from scrimmage in 2016. Even Ezekiel Elliott only had 30 carries as a rookie in 2013.
The depth this year is too much to expect Crowley to fight through.
From his perspective, however, he is competing against an inexperienced redshirt freshman in Teague, and an injury prone, undersized veteran in Demario McCall.
There is room for somebody to impress, but it may require additional circumstances out of Crowley’s control.