The West Coast is usually a destination for those in the Midwest. To move to Los Angeles, Hollywood, San Fransisco, etc. – it’s a dream for many. But for Kekoa Crawford, the Midwest was his destination spot, and he left California to join the Wolverines.
A wide receiver from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., Crawford was long believed to be headed to Oregon. But a call from Jedd Fisch and Jim Harbaugh on the day Harbaugh was hired changed the course of his recruitment. He had always liked Michigan and visited Ann Arbor the summer before his junior season without an offer in hand. Then-head coach Brady Hoke made him an offer before he went back home.
When Fisch and Harbaugh called to let him know that the offer was still good, his interest became real. Crawford visited for the Michigan State game last season and went home to California with a lot of love for Ann Arbor.
On Jan. 9, during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Crawford picked up the maize and blue hat.
Since then, Crawford has seen a good chunk of playing time for the Wolverines. Known more for his excellent blocking, the true freshman snagged his first touchdown catch from John O’Korn in the fourth quarter of the Maryland game on Nov. 5.
Let’s take you back to how and why Crawford became a member of the Wolverines.
High School: Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Catholic HS
Senior dimensions: 6-foot-1, 186 pounds
Position: wide receiver
Ranking: No. 19 wide receiver nationally, No. 120 prospect overall
Other notable offers: Miami (FL), Notre Dame, Oregon, Oklahoma, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Washington
On his beginnings with Michigan
Brady Hoke: “I visited Michigan for an unofficial — and I didn’t even have an offer — before my junior season. I came out here, took some reps, and then they pulled me aside and offered me.”
Hoke era ends: “When the change happened, I didn’t know if I still had an offer or not. When coach Harbaugh was hired, I got a call from him and coach Jedd Fisch telling me that my offer was still there, and that they would be recruiting me.”
Gone Fisching: “Coach Fisch was my primary recruiter, so I saw a lot of him. He’s a great guy and is always looking out for you.”
Playing with multiple future Michigan players at the U.S. Army All-American Game, the day he made his decision: “David Long (who played in the game with Crawford) and I had always talked about playing together, and luckily it happened. Mike Owenu and LaVert Hill played in the game, too, and they were able to talk to me about Michigan, and what it’s really like to live there. That helped.”
Why he chose Michigan: “Honestly, it wasn’t just one thing. We had a guest speaker come in the other day, and he came in and said something that resonated with me. He said, ‘You don’t choose Michigan, Michigan chooses you.’ When he said that, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s really what happened.’ Something about it felt like home, even though it was so far away.”
On becoming a Wolverines player
Switching to his nickname, Kekoa, from his given name of Dylan: “That’s what my family calls me. I didn’t change it legally, it’s just what I go by. I have Hawaiian heritage, and Kekoa means ‘warrior,’ while Dylan means of the ‘sea,’ so it means ‘warrior of the sea.’ ”
Adjusting from California: “The weather out here is actually pretty nice right now. I visited last year for the Michigan State game, and it seemed a lot colder – maybe I wasn’t used to it, but the weather isn’t bad. There really isn’t much of a difference in here to California.”
Toughest part of the transition: “Early on, learning the playbook. You have to adjust to new plays, new nuances and learn it on the fly.”
Being Amara Darboh’s disciple: “I play the same position as Amara, so he has taken me under his wing, and kind of showed me the way.”
On becoming successful early on
The first touchdown: “It was a special experience. Coming from high school, it’s a much different environment, especially in Michigan. The crowd doesn’t leave, they were there sticking around. I’m trying to get more. Hopefully, it’s the first of many.”
His elite blocking: “The coaches preach to us that we have to be able to do both if we want to make it to the next level. It’s a strength for me, yeah. I definitely enjoy it. Being able to go after the cornerbacks, it’s fun.”
The big block against Michigan State: “Nothing was really said. We just exchanged stares, said some things, but that’s the game. I took my official visit for the Michigan State game last season, so I knew the players had a different chip on their shoulder for that game. That game was their Super Bowl.”
Advice to a West Coast recruit: “Do it. That’s about all I can tell you. Do it. You’re not going to regret it. Especially now at this time. We’re winning, but it’s more than just that … it’s the players, we’re gelling well.”
Crawford is making his mark already at Michigan, like many true freshmen have. Donning the ever-so-famous No. 1 jersey, Crawford has big shoes to fill, but he’s been rising to occasion thus far.
You can see him in on a lot of Eddie McDoom run plays, laying the lumber on defenders downfield. And as we inch closer toward the end of the season, you can expect to see even more of the “Warrior of the Sea.”