Verlon Dorminey never had to worry about giving the reins of Trinity Christian Academy’s offense to Marcus Crowley this fall. After waiting a few seasons as a rotational athlete, Crowley was ready to take over as the featured back in Jacksonville and Dorminey was anticipating a breakout year.
For a running back without much of a national profile, Crowley was well established and, most importantly, he had a clear role for the next level. Even before Crowley had the size expected of a true power back, the tailback’s toughness running between the tackles was a defining characteristic. When he arrived at camps almost 30 pounds heavier than his listed weight, Crowley made himself coveted.
“That’s what Miami’s looking for. They were looking for a kid that’s a little bit bigger back,” said Dorminey, Crowley’s high school coach. “Marcus — by the time he graduates — will probably 200-205 pounds, once he gets to that level and we put a few more pounds on him.”
For the past two seasons, Crowley would describe himself as a bruiser. During the past season, though, the halfback transformed from a tough, thin runner into the sort of burly back the Hurricanes will need to fill out their Class of 2019. Until the past few weeks, Crowley was listed as a 6-foot, 165-pound running back. Now he’s up to 195 pounds and his growth helped him piece together a breakout season in Jacksonville.
While Crowley is unranked in the 247Sports composite rankings, the back is due for a significant bump this offseason and had interest from a number of other Power 5 programs. He already had offers from North Carolina State, Georgia, Penn State and UCLA when Miami finally extended its offer during the summer. Last Wednesday, Crowley committed to the Hurricanes.
— Marcus Crowley (@marcus_2334) December 6, 2017
This past fall, Crowley ran for 1,210 yards and 12 touchdowns on 197 carries, and added another 4 catches for 38 yards. The only obvious flaw in his play was the 4 fumbles he lost this year during the Conquerors’ run to the region finals in Class 5A.
“Just his progress, his maturity,” Dorminey said. “He played a lot as a ninth grader, played a ton as a 10th grader, but this year he was that feature back and just the maturity of how he developed over the season.”
And as Miami began to take notice of Crowley, the junior felt his interest in the Hurricanes solidify. He made his way to Miami Gardens early in the season to watch the Hurricanes beat Toledo, then returned to Hard Rock Stadium for Miami’s win against then-No. 3 Notre Dame in November.
— Marcus Crowley (@marcus_2334) November 11, 2017
The Hurricanes’ defense includes a pair of Trinity Christian alumni, defensive lineman Kendrick Norton and defensive back Derrick Smith, and they were able to tell Crowley about what it was like to play for Miami. Seeing the Hurricanes in person, particularly for the game against the Fighting Irish, solidified Miami as Crowley’s favorite.
“The atmosphere of the games. It’s a whole different atmosphere than a different college game,” Crowley said. “The fans are crazy and Miami’s bringing the swag back.”
Crowley previously viewed the Hurricanes like a lot of kids around his age do. The idea of Miami was always tantalizing and he can remember small pieces of its latter glory days from when he was really young. Even though they had struggled for the better part of a decade before this season, the Hurricanes were always on Crowley’s radar because of what they could become.
Crowley finally picked up an offer from Miami during its Paradise Camp in July and special teams coordinator Todd Hartley, the Hurricanes’ area recruiter for Jacksonville, started to keep in touch. The descriptions Hartley gave excited Crowley.
“I’ve been interested in Miami …, since I was a kid,” Crowley said. “When Coach Hartley was talking to me it sounded nice and then I wanted to get up there, and when I got up there it was everything he said. It was nice. It felt like home.”
While Crowley is the first running back committed in the class, he’ll most likely wind up being the No. 2 running back for 2019. The Hurricanes appear to be the early front runners for 4-star athletes Kenny McIntosh and Mark Richards, both of whom play running back in high school, and are also in the mix for 5-star running back Noah Cain and 4-star running back Daniel Carter.
Crowley’s powerful running style would be an ideal complement to any of these backs.
“He’s that typical 6-foot, 200-pound back in high school that is going to be tough to deal with and then once he gets to college I’m sure they’ll make him even bigger,” Dorminey said. “I think a lot of that is what they need.”
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