Jay Paris: El Camino’s Crawford back home and in no hurry to bolt

The Chargers’ Richard Crawford describes his NFL career as a roller-coaster ride. Better buckle-up if wanting to tag along.

“I’ve seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows,’’ said Crawford, a former El Camino High star.

Crawford, a cornerback, is going through drills during the team’s offseason workouts. While those with bigger credentials don’t fret their roster spot, Crawford doesn’t have that luxury.

Not when battling the likes of Brandon Flowers, Jason Verrett, Steve Williams and others.

Does that bother Crawford that his position, and the odds, are stacked against him?


“I just worry about myself,’’ Crawford said. “Santana Moss and DeAngelo Hall taught me that a long time ago: don’t worry about anybody else, just worry about yourself.’’

Crawford mentions Moss and Hall, his ex-Washington teammates. It was with the Redskins that Crawford made his mark and wrecked his knee.

“It’s football,’’ he said with a shrug. “You never know what’s going to happen.’’

In 2012 Crawford surprised many by making the Redskins as a seventh-round pick. With his contributions during the season, Crawford was more than an afterthought.

He had a 64-yard punt return to help beat the Ravens in overtime.

In Week 16, his fumble recovery iced another win.

In Week 17, Crawford recorded his first NFL interception off the Cowboys’ Tony Romo, helping Washington claim a playoff berth.

Crawford’s solid rookie season was to be a stepping-stone to year two.

Instead, a misstep in the third preseason game of 2013 sent Crawford reeling. He tore three ligaments in his knee and has been clawing his way back since.

“It wasn’t really humbling because I was already humble,’’ Crawford said. “But it was a test of my will. How bad did I want to play football and how could I come back from it? It was more mental than physical.’’

And that played to Crawford’s strength.

Not many 5-foot-7 players make the NFL and that was Crawford’s listing at El Camino. If you don’t mention him standing on his tiptoes, we won’t either.

But countless people told the headstrong Crawford to chase another dream.

“I never had any doubts,’’ he said.

Just like he never had a growth spurt like his freshman year at Saddleback College — four inches.

Take that, you doubters, as the 5-foot-11, 192-pound Crawford eventually transferred to Southern Methodist and then landed in D.C.

But he was cut after getting hurt. He returned to Washington’s practice squad, was cut again, and signed late last year with the Chargers.

Crawford didn’t see game action, but showed enough in practices that the Chargers coaches have taken a liking to him.

“He has a real love for the game,’’ Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. “You love to see a guy like that.’’

Getting noticed — for the right reasons — is Crawford’s goal. If a San Diego spot doesn’t open, then maybe someone else bites.

“Of course I want to be here, this is my hometown team,’’ Crawford said. “But you can’t control that. That is not my decision. I worry about what I can control. That’s all I can do.’’

Well, there are other things. Like his mastery of chicken, steak and ribs in the kitchen.

Crawford, 24, lives with his mother, which makes playing for the Chargers almost like when he was a teenager playing at El Camino.

“We do well together,’’ Crawford said, and if you tasted Jacqueline Crawford’s zucchini and sausage dish, you’d know why. “It’s been me and my mom since I was 7 or 8 and it’s almost like having a roommate. I love my mom and we just sit at home and chill.’’

Crawford is back in familiar haunts and wouldn’t it be something if he’s here on opening day?

With that, you may unbuckle your seat belt and exit the ride. Crawford will take it from here.

Contact Jay Paris at jparis8@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.


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