Southern California DB works overtime to be one of the nation’s elite players
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
“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
“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
What were your junior season stats?
“I had something like 35 tackles and two or three pass
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
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,
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
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
“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
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.