Playing in a Greensboro Page program that won 25 games and reached the state 4-AA finals once in his first two seasons, C.J. Crump didn’t emerge as a major college football prospect until his junior year.
But while recruiting Page safety Alex Angus last season, the East Carolina coaching staff quickly recognized the height, range and speed of a potential shut-down corner in Crump and invited him to their June camp where his raw speed impressed the coaching staff.
“He ran a ridiculous 40 time, like 4.3,” Page coach Jared Rolfes said. “He’s fast. He had filled out (from sophomore year) and was thicker, and had some good game tape. He went to a lot of camps and it seemed like everyone he went to he pulled in an offer.”
The Pirates extended a scholarship offer at the end of Crump’s camp visit. They joined Campbell, Elon, Massachusetts and N.C. Central as schools pursing Crump, who eventually chose ECU on June 17.
In addition to the opportunity play for East Carolina, Crump liked the idea of re-joining former Page teammates Angus, now a 6-2, 193-pound freshman linebacker for the Pirates, and walk-on freshman receiver Ford Moser in Greenville.
“They’re (Angus and Crump) close and good friends,” Rolfes said. “That played a pretty big role.”
Crump’s recruitment started later than most because he spent the first two seasons of his high school career playing for the Page junior varsity. But that wasn’t due to any lack of talent on Crump’s part. The Pirates were stocked with future college players in their secondary, including Angus, running back-cornerback Javon Leake (Maryland), safety B.J. Turner (Charlotte), cornerback Tarvis Martin (Fayetteville State), cornerback Kris Matthews (Guilford) and cornerback Tyrone Ashley among others.
Rolfes left Northwest Guilford to become head coach at Page prior to the start of Crump’s sophomore season. Even though Crump was playing for the JVs, other members of the coaching staff quickly pointed him out to Rolfes.
“He had a big upside because of his height, range, length and speed, and I saw that while he played corner for the junior varsity,’’ Rolfes said. “He wasn’t as physical as he is now. But we were so junior and senior heavy, and that’s what you want in your program. But he was very fast and that was noticeable immediately.’’
Even as a junior playing for the varsity in 2018 it took Crump time to establish himself as a starter, according to Rolfes.
“We still had a decent amount of depth in the secondary, so he rotated in and out early on,’’ Rolfes said. “But by game three or four he was a pretty prominent fixture back there and played well late in the year. He had gotten taller, stronger, thicker and gained a lot of confidence as his junior year unfolded. He became a really good player with his cover skills.’’
Crump appeared in 10 of Page’s 12 games as a junior, recording 24 tackles and making two interceptions. One of Crump’s picks came in a 26-6 triumph against Rolfes’ old squad at Northwest Guilford.
Rolfes is taking advantage of Crump’s skills on both sides of the football this season by using him at both cornerback and wide receiver. Through the first five games this season, Crump had made 11 catches for an amazing 332 yards – that’s 30.2 yards per reception – and two touchdowns. He also made 11 tackles on defense and intercepted a pass.
Crump opened the season with a five-catch, 176-yard, one-touchdown receiving performance against Davie County. In game two against Northern Guilford, he delivered a play that was a great example of his potential on the football field, Rolfes said.
“He caught a ball that was underthrown,’’ Rolfes said. “He caught the pass with two defenders even with him. It was a footrace at that point and he simply outran them. The play was all over social media.’’
Crump comes by his football skills naturally. His father, Jason Crump Sr., was a four-year football letterwinner at Hampton University from 1990-93. Jason Crump and wife Avery are both attorneys. Avery, in fact, became the first African-American and female district attorney in Guilford County when she was sworn in last January.
“He comes from a great family and they have done a good job with him,’’ Rolfes said. “He’s a good kid who will be able to handle all the social and academic aspects of being a student-athlete at the next level.’’
Although Crump won’t report to ECU until next summer, Rolfes is confident he’ll develop into a solid contributor for the Pirates.
“For any kid the demands at that level increase dramatically,’’ Rolfes said. “He still needs to work on some things such as change of direction, his ball skills, stuff like that. But he has all the talent and intelligence to do those things and become a really good player for ECU.’’
Crump is one of six defensive back prospects among the 21 prospects who have verbally committed to the Pirates for the recruiting Class of 2020. He’s one of four corners along with Nasir Clerk from Irvington, NJ, David Laney from Highland Springs, VA, and Sean Tucker from Washington, DC.