Four inches and four years ago, Richard Crawford was a high school football afterthought. He didn’t receive any attention from colleges, as he said his high school coach didn’t think he had next-level potential.
Despite his small stature, Crawford disagreed with that notion. He spent two years at a community college, before receiving an offer from Southern Methodist, and he now finds himself as a rookie at Redskins Park.
He was just 5 feet 7 coming out of El Camino (Calif.) High School, which detracted from his college hopes. While enrolled at Saddleback Community College, Crawford grew to 5 feet 11.
“My dad did the same thing,” said Crawford. “He sprouted in high school, I just sprouted a little later.”
The 22-year-old cornerback and punt returner had an impressive debut in the Redskins’ preseason opener against Buffalo and looks to build off that this week in Chicago. He recorded an interception in the second quarter and returned two punts for a 14-yard average.
“Just trying to get better, just trying to do everything better that I did,” Crawford said. “That’s how you can build off that, can’t do anything else. You can’t change who you are.”
Last week, Crawford said he hit a “rookie wall,” as he began making mental mistakes and botching play calls. He overcame his wall and feels far more comfortable now.
Crawford’s skills on special teams may be his ticket on the roster. The team has made the notion that last season’s returner, Brandon Banks, won’t make the team unless he can prove his ability as a wideout.
At SMU, Crawford averaged 9.2 yard per punt return as a junior and 11.8 as a senior. His 92-yard punt return was last season’s longest in Conference USA. He described himself as a runner who’s always moving forward and only goes side-to-side when he’s looking to set something up.
“I’m just trying to get positive yards,” Crawford said. “Get 10 yards, get a first down for your offense and do something so the offense can do something positive.”