Mikey Crawford owns a scholarship offer from a Big Ten school. An ACC school has offered, too, while several other FBS programs have extended him offers, as well.
What makes Crawford’s recruitment unique is that this senior has played only six games in his high school career. Not only that, but his school doesn’t even have a football team.
Crawford is one of the top uncommitted players from the WPIAL and City League in the class of 2024. Like Crawford, Bishop Canevin’s Jason Cross and North Allegheny’s Tyree Alualu hold Power Five offers, while Brandon Banks has more than two dozen Division I offers.
Crawford attends Lincoln Park, a school best known athletically for its powerhouse basketball program. Crawford helped the Leopards win WPIAL and PIAA titles in that sport last season. Lincoln Park doesn’t have a football program, but the school has a cooperative agreement with Western Beaver. So, Crawford plays basketball for Lincoln Park and football for Western Beaver.
A 6-foot-2, 186-pound wide receiver-defensive back, Crawford attended Gateway his freshman and sophomore years. But despite playing youth football for many years, Crawford elected not to play the sport at Gateway. However, after transferring to Lincoln Park last year, Crawford decided to return to football. He played in only a half-dozen games due to a broken arm, but his limited film was impressive enough that five FBS programs have delivered offers.
“What’s crazy is I didn’t really even train last year. I just kind of hopped on the field and played,” Crawford said.
Michigan State, Boston College, Connecticut, Toledo and Ohio have all offered Crawford, who said Pitt and Maryland are among the schools showing interest. Currently, Crawford lists Michigan State and Connecticut as his favorites. Crawford’s half brother, Montae Nicholson, is a former Gateway star who was a standout at Michigan State and now plays in the XFL. Crawford said schools are recruiting him either as a wide receiver or defensive back. He has yet to set up any official visits, adding that he likely won’t be committing anytime soon.
“I’m waiting for my senior season,” he said. “I’ve only played six games in my career, and I want more film.”
• While Crawford isn’t close to a decision, Bishop Canevin’s Jason Cross will announce his college choice Friday. Cross (6-2, 175) is an impressive safety prospect whose offer sheet includes Penn State, West Virginia, Michigan State, Texas A&M, Syracuse and Virginia Tech.
Cross, who also plays quarterback at Canevin, has taken official visits to West Virginia and Syracuse. He said those schools, along with Michigan State, are at the top of his list.
Cross said the visit to West Virginia included bowling and a dinner at coach Neal Brown’s house.
“I like how well I can fit in with that team, on and off the field,” Cross said. “I like the defense and I like the coaches. I felt pretty comfortable around them.”
Cross had this to say about Syracuse: “It was really the same thing. And what I like about Syracuse is how it’s really compact. The facilities and dorms are all right there. It’s really just football, so it keeps you focused.”
• Alualu, a 6-foot, 215-pound linebacker, has had a widespread recruitment. His coast-to-coast offers include Oregon, San Diego State, Coastal Carolina and Cincinnati. Alualu said he is working on setting up official visits to Oregon, San Diego State and Cincinnati. Alualu’s dad, former Steelers player and current free agent Tyson Alualu, played at California, and the family has a lot of relatives in the western part of the country.
“As of right now, I’m not leaning toward a college, so everything is kind of even. It crossed my mind to commit before the school year, but after talking to my parents some more, I’ll probably wait until after the season,” said Tyree, who has also heard from West Virginia, Wisconsin and Kentucky recently.
Alualu said his dad’s advice has been invaluable throughout the process.
“It’s truly a blessing to have my dad,” he said. “Having family who have gone through the whole recruiting process has been great. He’s been a mentor to me.”
• Banks said you can bank on him announcing his top four schools sometime in the next few days, and that he will make his commitment prior to the season. A 6-foot, 170-pound cornerback with a 4.1 GPA, Banks recently took official visits to Yale and Ohio.
“Yale is just really nice,” he said. “It’s top tier. I have never seen anything like that before. And Ohio, I really like how the facilities were close to the freshman dorms.”
A slew of other MAC schools have extended offers, as have Liberty, Coastal Carolina and Penn. Maryland, West Virginia and Princeton have all reached out recently, he said.
Banks said he is thrilled to be one of the latest in a long line of Aliquippa players to be heavily recruited. Classmate Cameron Lindsey committed to Pitt earlier this month.
“It feels good to carry on the Aliquippa tradition,” Banks said.
And here are updates on two other players in the senior class:
• Penn Hills quarterback Julian Dugger (6-3, 195) has seen his interest from Pitt pick up after a fine showing at Pitt’s passing camp Sunday. Pitt was the first school to offer the left-hander in May, but there hadn’t been a ton of contact between the two as of late. Trever Jackson, who attends high school in Florida, and Henry Hasselbeck of Massachusetts are reportedly at the top of Pitt’s recruiting wish list in the class, but Dugger could now be in the mix, as well.
Dugger’s other FBS offers consist of Toledo and Massachusetts. He said he plans on taking some official visits prior to the season.
“I can’t give a top school or schools right now,” he said. “The first one is kind of big, but I’m equally grateful for every opportunity. No commitment timeline. I have some things going on so these things can change quickly, so we’ll see.”
• A bevy of MAC programs are among those in pursuit of West Mifflin offensive lineman Rico Steele (6-4, 305), who is being recruited to play guard or center.
“I haven’t taken any officials or have set up any yet, but my top schools right now are Toledo, James Madison and Bowling Green, and I’m receiving heavy interest from Maryland and West Virginia,” said Steele, son of West Mifflin coach Rod Steele.