Virginia Tech made the junior college ranks a late priority on the recruiting trail looking to find JUCO players who could come in and play immediately on the defensive side. While the Hokies pursue JUCO players on all three levels of defense, defensive tackle was the greatest priority with a depth chart depleted and a clear starting opportunity open next to Jarrod Hewitt.
Enter Dashawn Crawford, one of VT's three Early Signing Day additions from the JUCO ranks and arguably the top name on any list of early playing time candidates for the Hokies.
Crawford emerged as a top target after a strong season for Jones County JC with 40 tackles including 15 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 16 QB hurries. Crawford was clearly dominant for his JUCO program and because of that, he quickly became a top target for the Hokies.
While Crawford was committed to Troy when Virginia Tech initially offered, it seemed inevitable that a flip would happen with Crawford flipping to the Hokies days before the Early Signing Day.
Now, Crawford has arrived in Blacksburg with his focus not only on learning the defense quickly, but also on continuing to be a standout student.
"I want to come in and learn the defense get to know the people. As far as school, I want to go be an honor student like I have my whole life," Dashawn Crawford said about his expectations for this spring.
While there is still an adjustment going from junior college to a four-year institution, that transition is usually simpler than coming out of high school though with Crawford himself telling us previously about his excitement to "experience the life of a four-year college."
Of course, most of the attention on Crawford will be on his ability to compete for a starting job this spring at a defensive tackle depth chart where one spot is wide open with Jarrod Hewitt holding down the other spot. At this point, it's hard to see challengers outside of Robert Porcher IV and possibly Xavier Burke depending on his health.
Regardless of the massive opportunity for Dashawn Crawford, the JUCO transfer is taking an approach of knowing that the competition will be intense for the starting roles along the interior of the defensive line.
"Just come in and work my butt off and learn the system and the best man will win," Crawford said about his approach this spring.
Crawford also has a good feel for what his physical strengths and weaknesses are mentiong that he feels his "speed and quickness" are strengths of his but that he feels like he "needs to get stronger." Crawford should benefit from being in a Power 5 strength and conditioning program led by Ben Hilgart who has proven to be one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the country.
Even with the excitement about his ability to come in and fill a major need, Crawford is still coming from the JUCO ranks as a player who was overlooked coming out of high school by Division I programs. With that, it's given Crawford a chip on his shoulder along with a sense of gratitude about having the opportunity to play at a Power 5 level.
"I've always had a chip because I’ve always been considered undersized and yes, I’m grateful for the opportunity because I know this is a once in a lifetime opportunity," Crawford said.
Now, Crawford will get his chance to prove that he isn't too small to be a quality defensive tackle at the highest level of college football entering a spring where he has a great opportunity to earn a starting job.
Whether Crawford does or doesn't earn the starting job, he still has his eyes set on one objective above all else this season.
"I want to help improve the team as much as I can."
If Dashawn Crawford is as good as his JUCO productivity suggests, he should be able to do just that in a significant playing role.
Photo Credit: Dashawn Crawford
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