Kentucky is now officially on a hot recruiting run and it appears that the wide receiver haul for the class of 2021 is full with the addition of blue-chipper Dekel Crowdus. The Lexington native will be a senior next season at Frederick Douglass after making a quick pitstop at IMG Academy down in Florida.
Score up another recruiting win to staff ace Vince Marrow as UK reeled in its first traditional blue-chip recruit at wide receiver since JaVonte Richardson in 2017. Crowdus will be bringing some elite speed to the Joe Craft Football Training Facility as the Wildcats look soup up the passing game.
Now it is time to step into the KSR Film Room and show you exactly what type of player UK will be adding to the offense. The newest commit is a big play wideout who can create a ton of problems running vertical routes. As UK’s offenses looks to push the ball down the field more, they will need speed. Crowdus has plenty of that.
The speedy receiver missed last season due to the transfer to IMG and then moving back to Frederick Douglass. Before that as a sophomore, Crowdus recorded 37 receptions for 831 yards and 11 touchdowns. The explosive athlete averaged 22.46 yards per grab with a gaudy touchdown rate of 29.73 percent. That’s getting it done.
To produce numbers like this there is one thing that is required and that is called separation. Whether being pressed or facing off coverage, Crowdus proves to have the ability to sprint by corners while most high school safeties are stuck standing in concrete as he streaks through the backend of the defense. Even in the redzone with the field condensed, this is still a very valuable skill. He ran a 4.40 forty-yard dash at The Opening last spring and that time is evident on the tape.
Crowdus is constantly flying by corners and is open by a wide margin very often. That is very good, but at times you have to make some tough catches even when the target is pretty big for the quarterback. At some point, you have to make competitive catches and Crowdus has the ability.
With the safety looming over the top and the sideline acting as a 12th defender, Crowdus does a very good job of locating and making a catch away from his body. He stays inbounds and the result is a big play for his offense. Not everything is going to go according to the playbook and adjustments must be made on the fly. Crowdus is more than just a “beat you deep” wideout.
The deep post has been a bread-and-butter shot play used by Eddie Gran and back in 2016, Jeff Badet made plenty of big plays running that route. The ability to hit that deep ball required defensive coordinators to keep their safeties deep and that helped create running lanes for Benny Snell and Boom Williams who rushed for a combined 2,261 yards while averaging 6.33 yards per carry. However, Kentucky has been missing that deep weapon ever since Badet headed to Oklahoma.
It certainly feels like Crowdus can fill that void. The wideout has big time speed that can create separation and that can spell trouble for safeties needing to pick him up going full speed in zone coverage. You shouldn’t be able to overthrow him and his presence on the field should immediately pay dividends to UK’s ground game by taking a body or two out of the box.
Remember Lynn Bowden Jr.’s miraculous touchdown run on a punt? Crowdus has one that is almost as good. If you’re interested in his punting ability, go check out the tape. He’s an effective high school punter.
Adding talent via high school recruiting for the wide receiver position has been a bit of an issue during the Mark Stoops era and that should not be much of surprise. After scratching the Air Raid, the Wildcats have established a run-centric, ball control offensive identity tied to solid defense and belief in the kicking game. It has resulted in wins, but for UK’s offense to make a jump they need to upgrade the pass game.
The last two classes have seen UK reel in five wide receivers and a utility man in Mike Drennen II. Outside of the latter, all have been high three-star prospects with multiple other Power Five offers but landing a blue-chip, top-300 prospect to play wideout has been an issue. Dekel Crowdus will now end that drought.
The speedster from Lexington had to pretty much miss his junior season (only played three games) due to time spent at IMG before heading back home, but the sophomore tape shows a big play receiver who can take the top off the defense. That’s something this UK offense has been missing for a few years now.
With no junior tape available, this is an interesting scouting evaluation but the obvious big play ability is hard to avoid. Crowdus has a more natural fit in the slot at the next level, but also has the speed to make an impact at outside receiver if he can prove he can beat press coverage against bigger corners at the line of scrimmage. Due to some of his traits (big time speed, separation creation) it will be hard to keep him on the bench when he arrives on campus.
It’s worth noting that Oklahoma and Lincoln Riley are in hot pursuit and it’s likely that this recruitment is far from over. Vince Marrow will have to continue to put in work and it’s possible that more big time schools come calling. Seeing what Crowdus puts together on his senior tape will be very interesting and should weigh very heavily in his national ranking. It’s easy to envision him climbing the charts if he has another effective season.