McDERMOTT —Simply put, Northwest High School senior Caleb Crabtree has every intention of writing his LA story.
Or, at least, starting with the 2021 football season, the Fullerton College in sunny southern California chapter.
That’s because Crabtree, in a recent ceremony inside Northwest High School’s media center, officially announced his intention to play college football —for the next two seasons anyways for Fullerton College.
Flanked by his parents Bill and Tara Crabtree and Northwest High School Athletic Director Dave Frantz, Crabtree —a two-time first-team all-Southeast District Division V offensive lineman —made it known his plans for the next two, or even four, years.
Two years, and 2,000 miles away from Scioto County — and exactly 20 miles east of Los Angeles, the second-largest city in the entire United States.
Crabtree, a second-team all-Ohioan as a senior after earning Special Mention as a junior for the Mohawks, said he had received offers from two other programs —Alderson Broaddus in West Virginia in (NCAA) Division II and Wilmington an hour away from Northwest in Division III.
But per Crabtree and his father, as Bill is the Mohawks’ head coach, “connections are everything”.
Caleb said he made the hookup with the Hornets’ offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator James Griffin, and “I started liking what their program had to offer”.
“I got into contact with Coach (James) Griffin at Fullerton, and I was excited about what he had to say. They are competing for national championships every year, and I thought that would be something I would like to be a part of,” said Crabtree.
Not to mention, being that close to Los Angeles — where connections, and eventually bigger offers for football — can keep coming his way.
Fullerton College is a two-year public community college located in Fullerton, and is one of 112 in the California Community Colleges System —belonging to the North Orange County Community College District.
Established in 1913, it is the oldest community college in continuous operation in California.
The Hornets are coached by second-year mentor Garrett Campbell, as the six-foot two-inch and 275-pound Crabtree was recruited to Fullerton to play primarily offensive guard.
“Connections are everything, and there are going to be a lot more connections in a big city like that. It’s pretty exciting for him to get this opportunity,” said Bill Crabtree. “He has made pretty good connections with their coaching staff already.”
He actually, even as an offensive lineman in Northwest’s two-tight run-heavy formations, was often regarded as the Mohawks’ best overall player.
At Fullerton, the Hornets have more formations from which to operate —and are much more of a spread-oriented squad.
But Bill said that pass-blocking adjustment Caleb can quickly pick up on.
“His off-season conditioning, he has always worked with training in that type of offense as well for years. Even though he has never ran it in game situations, he has the footwork for it, and has worked on it outside of here. He’ll be fine,” said the elder Crabtree. “He studies the game and works hard in everything he does.”
For Caleb, his adjustments will include “time management”.
“I need to work on my speed and strength, and I have to get better on my time management skills in order to get the practices in and schoolwork and everything else in,” he said.
Speaking of school, Crabtree said he has completed one year’s worth of college coursework already — through Shawnee State University.
He plans for his first year to earn his Associate’s degree in Business Administration, then after that, expressed an interest in Electrical Engineering.
Either way, academically and athletically, Crabtree “wants to see where I can go for my four-year and see which program I would like to go into with the other being a fallback”.
“I am going to go there (Fullerton) and see where I can go afterwards to transfer out to. I was hoping to get bigger offers than what I currently have,” he said. “Last year, they (Hornets) transferred all five of their offensive linemen to a Division I school”.
Speaking of Division I, the Mohawks captured last season’s outright Southern Ohio Conference Division I championship — and won the school’s first-ever OHSAA state playoff game.
But Crabtree said defeating Eastern 42-20, and clinching the SOC I share with that win, was his “favorite memory of all four years”.
“Definitely the Eastern game this past year. Up until that point, we had really struggled to put together a full game. We finally did that against Eastern, who was probably our best regular-season opponent. We won the share of the conference championship that night,” he said.
But that was the recent past, and now Crabtree focuses on his short-term future —which includes being a long way from home.
“I’m really excited about it. It’s going to be a big adjustment, being 2,000 miles away from everyone in my family and I don’t really know anyone out there yet, but I am hoping to meet new people and make some new connections,” he said.
He will, of course, still have has family from far away —so keeping that connection, and establishing some new ones, should “hopefully open up more doors down the road for him.”
“I’m definitely excited for him, and he has worked hard. This is something he has wanted for a long time. He had several smaller college offers and things a little closer to home, but I think it’s going to be good for him to get out there. It’s hard to let him go that far away, but at the same time, I think the opportunities will present themselves and because he is getting this opportunity, it will be good for him in the long run,” said Bill Crabtree. “It’s going to be different for him to not have his support system right there directly around him. Being 2,000 miles away is a long distance. Motivation is something I don’t worry about with him, because he is a very goal-oriented kid. He is not used to the big city obviously, but I think he will be fine. He has a good head on his shoulders and he is very determined to get to the next level. He realizes this is just a step to get him to that.”
Indeed, Caleb plans to write his Fullerton College chapter of his own LA story.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved