If you want to know what Aron Cruickshank is all about on the football field, just take a look at the name of his senior-season highlights video online. Cruickshank has used a simple moniker to describe what everyone who watches him recognizes as his best attribute: “2 Fast For You.”
That’s no false bravado, either, because the highlights do justice to Cruickshank’s pure, blazing speed, which devastated the Public Schools Athletic League in New York during his entire high school career.
Cruickshank, a 5-foot-11, 158-pound wide receiver from Erasmus Hall in Brooklyn, N.Y., will be one of five early enrollees for Wisconsin’s 2018 recruiting class. And he very well may be one of the fastest players on the team.
“He’s got SEC speed coming to Wisconsin,” Erasmus Hall football coach Danny Landberg told Land of 10. “You don’t need more than that, man. He’s got great hands. He doesn’t have any fear in him. The No. 1 attribute you can have in football is speed, and Wisconsin can use some of that.”
The highlights illustrate exactly what Landberg witnessed the past three seasons with Cruickshank on the varsity team. On one play, he catches a simple screen pass in the right flat and evades three defenders before nearly the entire defense converges on him. Cruickshank quickly loops backward toward the left sideline and outruns the rest of the team for a 50-yard touchdown with a mind-bending display of athleticism. On other plays, he routinely beats defenders for balls downfield or jukes them with pinpoint start-and-stop maneuvers.
Aron Cruickshank’s senior-season highlights
In addition to playing receiver, Cruickshank also spent time as a read-option quarterback who created headaches for opponents. All he required was the slightest crease in the line to break free for long runs. As a junior, he finished with 24 touchdowns and 1,009 rushing yards. Landberg noted Cruickshank could be a viable piece as an occasional wildcat quarterback at Wisconsin.
“He was very reluctant to play quarterback for me,” Landberg said. “We didn’t have anybody else that was good enough to throw. We had to put the best athlete at quarterback, and he was the best athlete that could throw. He knew he had to for the sake of the program.
“I said, ‘Listen, you’re going to get recruited as an athlete. Do what we need you do to and we’ll run the whole read-option game, and I promise you people will see you.’ It only took two games for him to get an offer.”
Cruickshank is a 3-star prospect who is rated as the No. 5 player in New York and the No. 33 athlete in the country, according to the 247Sports composite. He had nine scholarship offers, which included Big Ten schools Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. Landberg said Cruickshank originally wanted to commit to Penn State. But Landberg told him he could not commit unless he visited another school and had something to compare against Penn State. So, Cruickshank picked Wisconsin and loved what he saw.
He said he developed connections with tight ends coach Mickey Turner, who was his primary recruiter, as well as defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard and coach Paul Chryst. He also liked the atmosphere of Madison, which he described as more relaxed than Brooklyn.
“It all came down to the visits,” Cruickshank said. “When I went on my visit, Penn State was great. I thought that Wisconsin couldn’t beat Penn State, but it actually did. So I was glad that I didn’t make any moves at that time. I just fit in more at Wisconsin than Penn State.”
Cruickshank was a track and field standout in high school who participated in the 100- and 200-meter dash, several relays and the long jump. He finished sixth in the 100 at the PSAL City Championship in 11.02 seconds. His 4×100 relay team took third at the event in 43.27 seconds.
In March, Cruickshank set a long jump meet record at the USA Track & Field National Youth Championships with a leap of 23 feet, 2¾ inches. He set a high jump record in 2012 in the boys 11-12 age division at the same meet ― a record that holds today.
Cruickshank earned the nickname “The Dark Knight” during his youth football league games because of both his speed and his affinity for Batman. He said he is considering running track at Wisconsin, although nothing is set yet.
“I’m still thinking about it because that’s going to be a lot to handle, so I don’t know if I will,” Cruickshank said. “But it could be a cool thing.”
Wisconsin is loaded at wide receiver with a group that returns four players who excelled on an Orange Bowl-winning team that finished 13-1: Quintez Cephus, Danny Davis, A.J. Taylor and Kendric Pryor. Cruickshank is one of four receivers in the 2018 recruiting class, alongside Taj Mustapha (West Bloomfield, Mich.), A.J. Abbott (West Bloomfield, Mich.) and Isaac Guerendo (Avon, Ind.).
Cruickshank and Mustapha will enroll in time for this semester and be ready to begin spring practice. Landberg noted any athlete with a Division I opportunity at Erasmus Hall is encouraged to begin college ahead of schedule.
“We push our kids to get out there early,” Landberg said. “We want our kids to have some type of effect on the program when he gets to Wisconsin. We don’t want him sitting around in Brooklyn doing nothing while other kids are in spring ball. We want him out there as fast as possible. This is business. We don’t have time for games. We want him to get out there and make an impact as soon as he can.”
Cruickshank has drawn comparisons to fellow Erasmus Hall graduate Curtis Samuel, who starred at wide receiver for the Buckeyes from 2014-16 and became a second-round NFL draft pick of the Carolina Panthers. Landberg noted Cruickshank and Samuel possessed nearly identical speed in a couple of the same track events.
Cruickshank said he would prefer not to be compared to anybody so he can set his own path. But wherever that path leads, it begins with high expectations for the speedster at Wisconsin.
“He’s going to do some great things out there at Wisconsin,” Landberg said. “I don’t know if he’s Curtis Samuel. He’s going to have to bulk up a little bit. We rarely got him in the weight room because he was always a big-time track star. So when Wisconsin gets him in the weight room, I think he’s going to be an even better football player.”