Video: NFL running back Isaiah Crowell supports childhood friend in court
Quintavius Harrow had moments in the spotlight that outshined his current predicament.
Five years ago, the once-promising Georgia Bulldog football player had a college scholarship and a shot at a career.
Instead Harrow was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison with four years to serve and the rest on probation on charges of robbery, carrying a concealed weapon and using an article with an altered ID number.
He will get credit for the time he already has spent in the Muscogee County jail since his arrest in October 2014.
Columbus police alleged Harrow was involved in a series of crimes that month, including two armed robberies — one at the Forrest Road Package Store on Oct. 16 and another at a Veterans Parkway Summit service station on Oct. 17.
He also was accused of breaking into a business on Henry Avenue, of taking $13,000 worth of jewelry and other goods from a house on Carden Drive, and of breaking into an automobile on Dawn Drive. Police further alleged he broke into a Bargain Town on Francis Street and a residence on Lancelot Place, and he stole from a display case at Cody Road Trophies on University Avenue,
When he came to court Monday morning, he had eight charges listed on the Muscogee court docket, plus two more that originated in Chattahoochee County, where a deputy found a handgun in the back of a car where Harrow sat.
That was on June 25, 2014, when the deputy saw the car in which Harrow was riding following another too closely. The driver refused to allow a search of the vehicle, so deputies brought in a drug dog that alerted to a scent.
But the vehicle contained no drugs, just a 9mm pistol in a seat pocket right in front of Harrow, who said it was his. He was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and having a pistol with an altered or removed serial number.
The Muscogee County charges initially listed for Harrow were auto theft, attempted burglary, two counts of armed robbery, two of first-degree burglary and four of second-degree burglary.
Most of those charges were dropped, so Harrow, 23, pleaded guilty only to two counts of robbery and the two Chattahoochee County weapons charges, which drew probation sentences to run concurrent with his Muscogee cases.
Harrow could have spent up to 26 years in prison, if convicted — not the four years he was sentenced to serve.
“He’s been given a break here, and I hope he takes advantage of it,” said Assistant District Attorney Matt Landreau.
Superior Court Judge Maureen Gottfriend sentenced Harrow also to perform 100 hours of community service.
As he stood before Gottfried, Harrow wore blue jeans and a bright blue hooded sweatshirt.
On Sunday, Nov. 11, 2011, the Carver High graduate wore the uniform of the Georgia Bulldogs as the football team trounced the Auburn Tigers by a score of 45-7.
It was a good day for Carver grads: Then-Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell, Harrow’s close friend since childhood, ran for a game-high 132 yards and a touchdown. Former teammate Jarvis Jones twice sacked the Auburn quarterback and had three other tackles. Auburn never scored again after a 76-yard touchdown drive, as Jones and the Georgia defense afterward held the Tigers to 119 yards.
But it was Harrow, who played special teams, who had the play of the day.
In the kickoff after Georgia took the lead 14-7, Auburn’s Tre Mason caught the ball and ran with it.
Harrow hammered him in a “bone-jarring tackle,” a sports writer wrote.
That got the attention of then-head Georgia football Coach Mark Richt:
“I thought the most impressive play of the game was when Quintavius Harrow had that knock-’em-back, get-everyone-in-the-stadium-excited tackle,” the coach said. “That ignited our football team.”
Some fans assumed Harrow got his football scholarship only because of his longtime friendship with Crowell, who’d been Georgia’s top recruiting target. But Harrow’s dramatic tackles on special teams pulled him out of Crowell’s shadow to stand on his own merit.
On Nov. 23, 2011, a sports writer reported Harrow had 10 tackles to his credit, half of them solo. He was gaining a reputation for his energy, focus and aggression.
Said Assistant Coach Kirk Olividatti, who was in charge of the Bulldogs' kickoff coverage team:
“A lot of it is he understands the main purpose of a cover man is to end up at … the football. He understands that, and he doesn’t care how many butts he has to kick along the way. He just wants to end up where the football’s at.”
The coach recalled Harrow’s performance in the season opener against Boise State: “He got hit from like four different angles, got up off the ground and made the tackle.”
Richt thought Harrow might earn a spot on the regular Georgia defense in 2012.
“I’m really proud of him because he really has made a name for himself,” the coach said. “When we looked at him, we felt like at the very least he would be a great special teams player. He is what you’ve seen. He runs very fast, and he’s fearless; he’s tough.”
Trouble soon overshadowed such bright prospects.
On June 29, 2012, Crowell was driving his mother’s car about 2:20 a.m. when stopped at a vehicle checkpoint, where police found a gun in the car. He was charged with carrying a weapon in a school zone, having an item with an altered serial number and carrying a concealed weapon.
The Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year was dismissed from the football team that same day.
Within a week, Harrow, who was among four other players in the car with Crowell, also was off the team, because of academic issues.
With no college scholarship, he came home to Columbus.
Here he fell in with a bad crowd, according to his attorney, Stacey Jackson.
On Monday, Jackson told Judge Gottfried that Harrow had been a “student athlete” who just had “a few bumps in the road after his sophomore year.” But Harrow still can redeem himself, Jackson said, pointing to about 15 friends and family — including Crowell — who’d come to court to show their support.
“He has a strong support system,” Jackson said.
Harrow’s mother Valerie Epps also spoke, apologizing for her son’s offenses. “I raised him on my own without a father,” she said. “He’s my child, and I just ask the court for another chance. Everybody deserves a second chance.”
Gottfriend refused to let Harrow duck the blame, telling his mother she had no reason to apologize for her adult son’s choices. The judge said also that Harrow already had blown one chance to build a better life.
“You’ve been given a great opportunity. You blew it,” she said of Harrow’s scholarship, adding she would not accept the proposition that Harrow simply fell in with bad company.
“These friends you hung around with didn’t put you in this situation,” she said. “You put yourself in this situation.”
She said she would accept the plea agreement with some “hesitation” as to whether Harrow can fulfill his promise. She also granted him first-offender status, meaning that if Harrow successfully completes his probation, his Muscogee County convictions will be removed from his criminal history.
But she warned him: If he so much as runs a red light, she can revoke his probation and give him the full prison sentence.
Despite the peaks and falls, one constant in Harrow’s life holds: His close friendship with Crowell, who proved a second chance can lead to success.
After he was dismissed from the Georgia Bulldogs, Crowell went to Alabama State, though he was out of shape.
He worked his way back. Overlooked in the 2014 NFL draft, he signed on with the Cleveland Browns, and as a rookie rushed for 607 yards and eight touchdowns. In his second season, he rushed for 706 yards, had 182 yards receiving and scored a total of five touchdowns.
Last year he came to Columbus to talk to students at the schools he attended, Dawson Elementary, Rothschild Middle School and, of course, Carver High.
On Monday, he stood beside his longtime friend at the front of the courtroom as Gottfried delivered the sentence.
Afterward, he said he and Harrow would continue to stand by each other:
“I once got in some trouble before, and you know, you’ve just got to accept the consequences, and just come back and be the best you can be.”
He said Harrow at heart is a “good person,” and “everybody makes mistakes.”
Harrow stuck by him when he was in trouble, and he’ll stick by Harrow, whom he has known since kindergarten: “We’re like brothers. We grew up together,” he said.
“I want to be here for him because he was there for me, when I went through my trials and tribulations.”