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Dolphins interested in Crawford

It was a pretty good way to end spring break.

Mike Crawford, Nevada senior linebacker and former Whittell High star, was vacationing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, last week when he received an international phone call from his mother, Mary. The Miami Dolphins, mom said, wanted to fly him to Florida to spend a couple of days with the team.

So Crawford packed up and headed East – a six-hour flight to what became a thrilling two days of hanging out with one of professional football’s best organizations.



“I got there last Sunday morning and left Monday afternoon. There was a banquet dinner and we got to tour the training facilities. I met Jimmy Johnson and Zach Thomas. It was an honor to be there,” Crawford said.

The Dolphins informed Crawford that he was one of their top-20 draft prospects, saying they considered him to be the “secret” among available linebackers. Team officials added that they hoped no other team would “jump up and take you in an early round, because we’d like to draft you,” said Crawford of the meeting.




Crawford apparently impressed the Dolphins when they, along with 15 or so other NFL scouts, attended a workout in Reno last month. The middle linebacker ran a best-ever 4.71-seconds in the 40-yard dash, which was timed using pro standards in which the clock doesn’t stop until the player’s entire body crosses the line.

The workout also caught the eye of the Seattle Seahawks, who, according to Crawford, have called at least five times expressing their desires to draft the linebacker.

“It gives you confidence and some people would start to get a big head,” Crawford said. “It’s definitely cool to walk into the Dolphins’ facility and know you’re one of their top prospects.

“But to be honest, it may be close. I think the greater chance is that I won’t get drafted. That’s all good. I’ll still be in camp and that’s where it really happens.”

According to ESPN’s 1997 draft predictions on the Internet, Crawford isn’t listed among the country’s top 83 backer prospects. Still, at 6-foot, 1-inch, 240 pounds and boasting a 4.71 in the run, he ranks among the top 10 in physical characteristics.

In addition, Interactive Internet Sports’ draft web page says the Dolphins are hurting most at the backer position. Aside from Thomas, a fifth-round pick last season who rose to stardom under Johnson, no other Miami player has secured a position among a backing corps that ranks last in total roster spots filled on the team.

It appears that necessity, along with proven foresight, may have led to Miami’s assessment of Crawford as the “secret.”

Still, Nevada’s most valuable player on defense in 1996, who also received MVP honors in the Las Vegas Bowl, isn’t putting too much emphasis on draft weekend.

“I don’t want to make a big deal out of it. I just take it as if it happens, it happens,” he said. “I’ll watch both days to find out where a lot of the guys I’ve met go and to see who my competition will be.”

The 1997 NFL draft is scheduled for April 19-20 and will be covered on ESPN television as well as numerous Internet sites.


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