Name: Michael Crabtree
Weight: 208 lbs.
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Nobody denied Michael Crabtree was a great high school athlete. Nobody doubted Crabtree could be an impact player in college. But nobody could have expected Crabtree, a kid who played quarterback in high school and never once took a snap at wide receiver, to hit the field as a redshirt freshman and immediately establish himself as one of the most dominant offensive players in all of college football. But that’s exactly what Crabtree did, catching an astonishing 134 passes, setting NCAA freshman receiving records and taking home the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wideout.
By The Numbers:
Crabtree’s freshman stats are scary. In his first-ever start, against SMU, he caught 12 passes for 106 yards and three touchdowns. Then he kept on catching, and kept on scoring, for the rest of 2007. At season’s end, Crabtree had caught 134 passes for 1,962 yards and scored 22 touchdowns, breaking NCAA freshman records in each category.
Check out this two-game stretch: In the third game of his career, Crabtree caught 11 passes for 244 yards (an average of 22.2 yards per catch) and three touchdowns against Rice. The next week against Oklahoma State, he caught 14 passes for 237 yards and three more touchdowns. The back-to-back performances established Crabtree as the nation’s top receiver and catapulted him toward the Biletnikoff Award.
Can Crabtree really improve upon his 2007 performance? Besides, there are only so many plays in a game, and only so many passes to catch. But he might do it anyway. He’s big enough to overpower smaller corners and athletic enough (he has 34-inch vertical jump) to outjump the big ones. He’s got great hands. He's good in traffic. And with second-team All-Big 12 quarterback Graham Harrell and nine other starters returning from an offense that led the Red Raiders to a Top 25 finish last year, Texas Tech seems poised for another strong year. And so does Crabtree. We'll have to sit back and see what he can do for an encore.