Southern California DB works overtime to be one of the nation’s elite players

By EFN Staff
Published: 02/03/2015

Sometimes being physically gifted is just not enough to be an elite football player on the high school level. A lot of top recruits can skate by on natural talent but every now and again a top talent shows the rare maturity at an early age to know what it takes to win, what it takes to be a champion on and off the field.

That maturation can come several different ways but for Servite defensive back Micah Croom being lauded as a player on one of the most talented teams in the nation heading into the 2014 season but finishing with a losing record can force one to see what it takes to be a champion.

Through adversity, the 6’3”, 195 pound, rising star seemingly has a better understanding of what being great on the football field is all about – it’s about being a team.

Few teams had the level of talent that Servite (Orange County, California) put on the field in 2014 with quarterback Travis Waller committed to Oregon, offensive lineman Clayton Johnston off to USC, offensive lineman A.J. Cary off to Washington, defensive back Kameron Dennis committed to Northern Arizona, and wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown having 27 scholarship offers to choose from on National Signing Day. From programs like Notre Dame, Utah, Stanford, Arizona State, Arizona, Cal, LSU, Washington, Texas A&M, Maryland, and Miami, and that’s just from the 2015 recruiting class.

In addition to Croom, defensive backs Tre Webb and Keyon Riley along with linebacker/wide receiver Sammy Durate are part of the Servite Class of 2016 that will receive heavy recruiting interest over the next year.

In a candid Elite Football Network exclusive interview, Micah Croom sat down to discuss his junior campaign, his unbelievable offseason workouts, recruiting, and his goals for the 2015 season.

Micah, the Friars played a really tough schedule but had a ton of talent. How did Servite end up 4-7 in 2014?

“Looking back, we had a lot of talent and a little bit of confusion on the team. We have a new coaching staff coming in – I think they are making the announcement on Feb. 12. I’m just looking forward to next year with a chance to win a state championship.”

With the talent you expect to come back to the team next year, how does Servite look?

“Its missing what last year’s team had in terms of overall talent. We’ll miss guys like Travis (Waller), (linebacker Jack) Savage and all those guys. I think we may have a more disciplined, a more determined group. That’s big if you ask me. That supersedes talent in my opinion.”

What will the 2015 team have to do differently to have a run into the playoffs and possibly contend for a state championship?

“To do it right, we have to come together. You can’t win a football game by yourself. We have to tighten down as a unit. At the same token, we need to work hard. There’s nothing wrong with hard work, on and off the field. We have to keep attacking our own weaknesses to get better, all of us as a team. If we can do that we’ll have successful results.”

What are your strengths on the field at cornerback and safety?

“A lot of recruiters call me a naturally aggressive safety. At cornerback I think how I play press coverage is a strength. I don’t like playing off my man. I like to let him know that I am there play after play. In college if I want to play cornerback or safety I have to be able to do both, play on an off my man.”

“Another strength of mine are my feet. I never miss an open field tackle because I’m in the wrong position. I pride myself on trying to get turnovers. I can come down hard on a slant or come up on the line to get the running back. My goal is to continue to get stronger and faster.”

What offseason workouts are you doing to get stronger and faster?

“My dad and I are doing a triathlon. We wake up at 5 a.m., jog one mile to the pool, swim two to three miles at the pool, and then run home. After school I work on my foot work or run track, then I lift for an hour and a half or so, and then around 9:30 I do curls, back, or shoulders at home.

“I want to keep working on my speed and my feet – you can’t go wrong with that. If I can move my feet regardless of my weight I’ll be able to play any position the coaches ask me to play. I’m excited to see the end results.”

What were your junior season stats?

“I had something like 35 tackles and two or three pass breakups.”

My contention is stats are what you make of them and they do often lie. You did not mention any picks what’s the story behind that?

“Playing corner I think I only gave up two catches in zone all year. Playing man-to-man I didn’t give up a catch at all.”

That tells a more complete story than your stats.

“(Laughing) Yes it does.”

What are your personal goals for the 2015 football season?

“I want to show, in our circle, that I can stay at this position in college. Recruiters call and say “man you’re getting big, you’re going to have to play linebacker.” I want to show them I can play just as fast and just as quick at cornerback with my current size and weight. I’ll be just that much more deadly as a player. I want to showcase my talent on the way to college.”

You mentioned earlier that coaches are talking to you about moving to linebacker at the next level. What other notes are college coaches giving you about your skill set?

“They like my physicality. They like the way I move and that I am open to going down into the hash mark as a safety. That’s what interests them. Others want to see me work on my ball skills, seeing me go get it. They want to see me make bigger plays. That’s something I want for myself as well.”

You committed to Utah on Nov. 11. What made you commit to the Utes so early in the process?

“Coach (Sharrieff) Shah (cornerbacks coach) and (head coach Kyle) Whittingham were very supportive of me and with the situation I went through during my junior season. For them to be that reliable and dedicated I saw that as a sign of respect. So I committed to them.

“You can also see that they are turning the program around. They had some big wins last year. Shows they’re making the change, I want to be a part of that.”

Would you say that you are a hard commitment to Utah?

“I’m still open to the recruiting process. It’s not over until it’s over. I’m still taking my time and seeing what all might be out there for me.”

What other schools are showing interest in you?

“USC, UCLA, Stanford, Washington State, Arizona State, Washington, New Mexico, Cal, Colorado, and Harvard are all showing a lot of interest, mostly schools in the Pac-12. I’ve also heard from Northwestern, Miami, Michigan, and Florida State.”

Are you going to any college camps this summer?

“I’m going to Stanford’s camp. I’m considering going to Washington’s camp. Coach (Jimmy) Lake (defensive backs coach) and Coach (D’Andre) Goodwin (graduate assistant) want me to come up there and see the campus. They’re both really good guys. Other than that I don’t know yet.”

Are there any college or NFL players you like to watch play the game?

“I like watching Tyrann Mathieu (Arizona Cardinals) and Kam Chancellor (Seattle Seahawks) play. Those guys basically model what I want to be on the field. They’re big, strong, fast defensive backs that can come down the line for the big hit or get a pick.

“They’re all around animals on the field. They have coaching staffs that let them roam. They’re in the slot or on the hash. The coaches give them that ability, the freedom to roam. I want to be able to do that in college and in the NFL if I am blessed to do so.”

You mentioned earlier that you run track. What are your best times in your events?

“My best time in the 100 meters is 10.79, in the 200 meters 22.8, and in the 400 meters 49.0.”

Who has made the biggest impact on your football career?

My father (Larry) and my brother (Larry Jr.) have had the biggest impact on me so far. My brother played running back at Long Beach Polytech and was at Arizona before he transferred to UNLV. He was undrafted out of college but was picked up by the Cardinals (2004-2005). He played for several NFL teams (Tennessee Titans, Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers, and Pittsburgh Steelers before playing the last four seasons in the German Football League).

“Watching him made me realize what I needed to do and inspired me to try to take the same route. That was really big for me. Once I made that clear to my father what I wanted to do, he fully stood behind me and put me in the right position to be successful. My dad has helped me to get where I’m at today. I owe it to both of them for sure.”

What is your favorite part of playing football?

“The persona I’ve built on the field. A lot of people that meet me say I’m nice but on the field I switch personalities. I get this adrenaline rush being able to be a complete savage on the field. I like laying the wood on the opposition and hyping my teammates up. The game brings out a whole other side of me.

“At safety it’s a chest game between me and the quarterback. He’s reading my feet and I’m reading his eyes. I like that mental aspect of the game as well. Everything about the game excites me.”

Humility, insightful, determined, hard working, physically gifted, coachable, intelligent and not afraid to mix it up – all things wanted by coaches at any level, all things possessed by Micah Croom.

Croom already has offers from Utah and Colorado with more offers sure to follow especially if he gets out on the college camp circuit over the summer. Once college coaches see his physical capabilities in person, it’s a done deal. Once they get the chance to talk to him one-on-one, they’ll be hooked.

Game after game and practice after practice Croom is mixing it up with some of the best players on the high school level and doing better than holding his own, he’s created a name for himself already.

Whatever team is lucky enough to secure Croom’s letter of intent come the first Wednesday in February in 2016 will be getting more than just a quality football player, they will be receiving a vocal leader who also leads by example. Said team will get a player that has been through hard times on and off the field but has shown the resolve to keep fighting for what he wants. They will be getting a model student athlete to represent their program for years to come.