Debbie Crowell, the mother of NFL running back Isaiah Crowell, recalled a time in her son’s youth when he constantly asked to go to the local football camps. Debbie told her son they couldn’t afford to go to all these expensive camps, leading Crowell to say if he ever got the chance he would host a football camp for free.
For the fourth straight year, Crowell has made good on the promise he made to his mother many years ago.
Crowell held his annual youth football camp at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium Saturday morning. While thunder clapped in the background and rain threatened the morning, many local kids still showed up to be coached through the fundamentals and also see the former Carver High School star.
For Crowell, hosting the camp is something the NFL running back feels privileged to be able to offer the Columbus youth.
“It’s important to me because I wasn’t able to do it,” Crowell said. “It’s an honor to be able to do that for kids. I really enjoy it.”
Crowell has experienced a major transition during the NFL offseason. After spending the first four seasons of his professional career with the Cleveland Browns, the 25-year-old signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the New York Jets.
Crowell said the Jets players and coaches played a big role in his decision to go to New York. He said it was evident during the free agency period that the Jets coaches believed in him and wanted him, which convinced Crowell that New York was where he needed to be.
“Everything’s been good. Everything’s been nice,” Crowell said. “I’m enjoying all my teammates and just the camaraderie and the brotherhood they’ve got up there. I’m enjoying it. I just can’t wait to get on the field and prove myself.”
Crowell’s addition was part of a busy offseason for the Jets which included the team adding a potential franchise quarterback in USC quarterback Sam Darnold. The third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft is expected to compete for the Jets starting job and is eyed as the potential key piece in the team’s future.
Crowell said he’s already been around the rookie Darnold a lot and has come away impressed with what he’s seen.
“I feel like he’s going to be a great quarterback,” Crowell said. “He’s a rookie, and everybody has their rookie things they go through. He’s very smart, and I’m glad to have him on our team.”
Crowell said he’s optimistic about his new team’s direction going into the fall.
“I feel like we’re going to be real good,” Crowell said. “I feel like we’re going to prove a lot of people wrong. We’ve got a chance to go all the way with hard work and dedication. We’ve got the talent and the team we need, and we just have to go out there, work hard and capitalize.”
While Crowell will set his full attention back on New York soon enough, Saturday was about his hometown.
Crowell said he loves returning to Columbus and visiting the people who have been around him his entire life. He said those friends and family members have seen everything he’s gone through to reach this point in his life, and to spend time with them is one of the best parts of coming back.
Providing an opportunity for local kids who want to go to football camps like Crowell once did is just as important to the fifth-year NFL back. Crowell said he hoped those who woke up early Saturday to run through drills, snag a free t-shirt and catch a glimpse of the Jets running back found the experience worthwhile.
“I want them to just come out here, enjoy it and have fun. That’s the main thing,” Crowell said. “It’s a kid’s sport, so I just want them to get the fundamentals and have fun with it.”