ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Running back Jamitreus Crockham (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern) had never been quite so excited to see traffic as he was on Saturday morning when his car pulled to a standstill a mile away from Michigan Stadium.
"You could see, even that far from the stadium, how much the fans were into it," Crockham said. "It was amazing. I really liked it up there."
The 6-foot-2, 198-pound prospect took in the Michigan-Northwestern game this weekend with his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s father (both Michigan natives). And while Crockham has lived in Indiana his entire life, he does admit that he grew up rooting for the maize and blue.
Now, the Wolverines are calling for Crockham. He hasn't received an offer, but he likes hearing from Michigan and was elated to be on campus. Crockham's lone offer is from Toledo, but Wisconsin, Cincinnati and Nebraska are all pursuing him as a wide receiver, while Tennessee, Purdue and Missouri have interest in him as a running back or safety.
So when he finally arrived on Michigan's campus he couldn’t wait to get in the stadium. But there was one tradition he had seen on TV several times before that he was hoping he'd get to participate in. He had remembered on the game previews and telecasts of big matchups how the players would exit the tunnel onto the field on the east side of the stadium. He was hoping he'd get to see what the players see every home game.
And Michigan didn't disappoint. Like the players and coaches, Crockham had the opportunity to walk down the famous Michigan tunnel.
"When I got to that tunnel, I felt like one of the players walking down it," Crockham said. "You see the fans trying to give you high fives. I felt like I was about to play. … I felt like all the energy was just circling around me. When you step on the field and you see everyone, you just feel wanted. I felt like I was wanted there."
During the game, Crockham spoke a bit with 2013 quarterback commit Shane Morris (Warren, Mich./De La Salle). The two rehashed a matchup from last June's IMG Madden Football Academy's 7-on-7 championships in Bradenton, Fla. when Morris' MaxEx team took on Crockham's AWP Sports team.
"When we had gone against Shane he had done some friendly trash-talking," Crockham said. "And we did it right back."
Morris was one of the last people who actually saw Crockham play in a game-like setting. This fall during two-a-days, Crockham tore both his ACL and MCL in a fluke practice accident. The injury caused him to miss the entire season and undergo two surgeries, with his ACL repair surgery coming just two weeks ago.
Even so, programs like Michigan are still interested in the prospect because of his sophomore statistics (20 touchdowns, 1,009 yards in 13 games), his size and his speed.
The Michigan coaches were pleased to hear that Crockham is already walking and working on a jog, which puts him at least a month ahead of most ACL recovery timelines. Crockham said most college coaches have had the same reaction as the Wolverines' coaching staff and few seem anxious about his knee.
"They're not worried," Crockham said. "A lot of them send me motivational things every week, telling me to keep going and keep my head up. That has helped me out. I’m working hard to get back in to it."
Before his surgery, Crockham molded his game after former NFL running backs Eric Dickerson and Walter Payton, and he's hoping that his injuries won't slow him from that style.
"I can maneuver through tackles and keep my feet moving," Crockham said. "And whenever I get tackled I always fall for more yards."