Sunday, June 2, 2013
Haubert: Gamecocks find good fit at TE
By Craig Haubert
Under Armour All-American tight end Kevin Crosby (Bamberg, S.C./Bamberg-Ehrhardt) committed to South Carolina Saturday, becoming the Gamecocks' first ESPN 150 pledge for 2014. Our Scouts believe he could make an early impact in Columbia:
What he brings: At its simplest form, the Gamecocks are getting a good football player in Crosby. Yes, he does have his flaws and can use improvement in areas, but he drew some interest on both sides of the ball, and when he steps on the field he’s capable of getting the job done. As a tight end, he possesses marginal height, but he is thickly built with a solid wing span for his size and very good playing strength. As a receiving target, he has a nice initial burst and good playing speed. He possesses soft hands and while he is lacking in ideal height he will do a good job of extending and going up for the ball and demonstrates very good body control to adjust to passes off target. He does need to continue to develop as a route runner, but has upside in this area. Crosby needs to be a little more consistent, but with a thick strong build he can an effective blocker. With Crosby, linebacker could be an option as well depending if height should become an issue or if team need calls for it and could/should be a strong special teams player as well, so he offers ways to help the Gamecocks beyond being a talented tight end prospect.
How he fits: Crosby should fit well for the Gamecocks on offense and is a player a bit in the mold of the recently departed South Carolina tight end Justice Cunningham, who lacked ideal height as well but was thickly built and a natural pass catcher also. Crosby lacks height compared to Cunningham, but could be a little more of an active receiving target and offer a little more big play ability with better speed and a little more potential after the catch. South Carolina will target the tight end with Cunningham catching 23 passes in 2012 and Rory Anderson hauling in 14 and five touchdowns and it also has shown it can use two-tights sets with some frequency, so with development as a route runner and blocker, Crosby can offer a strong option.
History at position: No one is tagging South Carolina as a TE U and in recent years the Gamecocks calling card has been on defense with players like Stephon Gilmore, Melvin Ingram and of course Jadeveon Clowney. This is a Steve Spurrier led team though so offense is not something that takes a back seat and as mentioned the Gamecocks will utilize two-tight end sets and will look to include the tight end in the passing game as they did with Cunningham to a degree more recently and in the past with players like Weslye Saunders and Jared Cook. More importantly, in the here and now, Cunningham may be gone, but junior Anderson returns, and the Gamecocks have a solid stable beyond him as well with the athletic Jerell Adams and Drew Owens who along with 2014 commit Kalan Ritchie (Goose Creek, S.C./Goose Creek) can be strong blockers at the position to go along with the talented and versatile Crosby.
Prediction for performance: Crosby has room for improvement in a couple of areas, but this is a prospect that could begin to contribute as a true freshman in a role on offense and especially on special teams. As he becomes a more polished route runner and consistently stronger blocker his role should increase within the offense and can be that target who catches that 25-40 passes as other tight ends in this system have in the past.
How the class is shaping up: Crosby gives the Gamecocks their fifth verbal for 2014 and their first ESPN 150 commitment. Crosby along with Ritchie, gives South Carolina two tight ends in this class.