GRANDVIEW — After an outstanding three-year varsity career with the Zebras, Grandview’s Earnest Crownover will continue his football journey at the junior college level as a Bulldog after signing with Navarro College on Wednesday.
Crownover received offers from programs such as Army, Central Arkansas, Grand View University, Harding University, South Alabama and Southwestern Oklahoma State University in addition to preferred walk-on offers from Southern Mississippi and Tulsa.
But Crownover opted to take the JUCO route and join Navarro, which competes in arguably the toughest junior college conference in the nation.
“Signing on National Signing Day is something that I’ve always wanted to do,” Crownover said. “I know it may not be signing to a Division I school right off the bat but God has a great plan for me and I trust Him. I feel like going the JUCO route will help me get more looks and get a chance to be re-recruited.”
Grandview Coach Brad Davis said he believes Crownover made a good decision in both the short term and long term in joining Navarro.
“I think it’ll give Earnest a chance to play immediately and that may lead to bigger and better things after two years,” Davis said. “He’ll get a chance to showcase himself and have a chance to play right away.
“It’s a great conference. It’s probably one of the best junior college conferences around. He’s a competitive kid and he’s going to a competitive conference. I think it will be a good fit for him all the way around. I think he’s got a chance to fit right in and against all that competition and the good teams in that conference, that will make himself and Navarro better. That competition is going to make you better as a team and as an individual player.”
Cleburne Coach Casey Walraven coached in Grandview from when Crownover was in first grade through his junior season. Having the close relationship he has with Crownover, Walraven said he feels like the talented player made a good decision.
“I think he made a great decision for what he’s wanting to do with his future,” Walraven said. “He comes from a great family. He has great size and is a tremendous football player. But most importantly, he’s a tremendous person, that, on and off the field, he’ll make Navarro better, and then the same wherever he ends up after that, which I feel like will be a big place. I feel like I helped raise him. It’s great to see him have an opportunity to go out and prove what he can do. He’s going to continue having great things coming his way.”
Navarro, which competes in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference, is coming off a 6-4 season. The Bulldogs compete against fellow JUCO powerhouses such as Blinn College, Kilgore College, Tyler Junior College, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and Trinity Valley, among others.
Crownover said he opted for JUCO because he believes he can earn a scholarship at a big-time Division I program in the future if he continues his successful play.
“Choosing the JUCO route is something that I talked to my family about and have prayed multiple times about,” Crownover said. “I chose Navarro over going to the other schools as a preferred walk-on because I feel like maybe in a couple of years that I will be able to get a full-ride scholarship to a DI school. I plan to blow up and show out at Navarro to help me move on to the next level and fulfill my dreams of playing Division I ball.”
Crownover said another reason he chose Navarro was for a better chance at immediate playing time as opposed to maybe sitting out a year or two elsewhere. The 2017 All-Johnson County and District 6-3A DI MVP said Navarro plans to play him at multiple positions including running back, receiver and as an H-back in some formations.
As as senior, Crownover rushed for 1,500 yards on just 146 carries (10.2 yards per carry) and had 22 receptions for 538 yards with 26 total touchdowns. For his career with the Zebras, Crownover rushed for 4,454 yards and 48 touchdowns with 62 receptions for 1,107 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Walraven said he believes several Division I programs were hesitant to offer Crownover because they were unsure of where to play him.
“I think he was on the verge of getting a lot of offers from big-time Division I colleges, but what held them back a little bit was them trying to project and have a vision of where he was going to play for them,” Walraven said. “I think what Navarro is going to do is allow him to mature in his game and be able to show what he can do at the college level against Division I-type athletes. He’s going to land on his feet somewhere because of the player he is and the person he is.”
Crownover said he’s proud of what the Zebras accomplished over the past three seasons, including a run to the Class 3A Division I state quarterfinals this season. He also said he wouldn’t be where he was today if it weren’t for the help and support of his coaches, family and friends.
“First off, I want to thank God,” Crownover said. “Secondly my family, friends, coaches and teammates. I want to thank Coach Casey Walraven and Coach Rodney Morphew for pushing me to be a great football player and believing in me from the moment they handed me my first carry on varsity and giving me that chance. I want to thank our new coaching staff for what they came in and did this year. I would like to thank Coach Ryan Ebner for all the talks and helping me realize that I have to work for what I want for.
“Last but not least I want to thank my dad for being a great role model and the person that I look up to. Also, thank you, Zebra Nation for all your support. I will always bleed black and white!”