Redshirt Freshman Nabs NCAA TD Mark

Monday, October 8th 2007, 3:31 pm
By: News On 6

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) _ Big statistics are the norm at Texas Tech, where quarterbacks routinely lead the nation in passing while running the Red Raiders' wide open offense.

This season it's a receiver _ a redshirt freshman, no less _ who's garnering gaudy numbers. Michael Crabtree's three touchdowns in a 42-17 win over Iowa State on Saturday gave him 17 scores for the season, breaking the NCAA Division I record for most TDs by a freshman.

Already in the record books with six games left, Crabtree's on pace to break the Division I mark of 27.

``If he keeps playing like he is, and he'll improve, and we keep feeding the ball to him, I think his chances of breaking that are pretty good,'' said Tech QB Graham Harrell, who leads the nation is passing with 2,726 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Crabtree broke the record of 14 TD catches held by three freshmen. The Division I record for a season is shared by Jerry Rice and Troy Edwards. The NCAA record is 35 TDs by David Kircus, set at Division II Grand Valley State.

Crabtree may threaten more than just the NCAA scoring marks.

He leads the nation in yards per game (179), receiving yards (1,074) and receptions (70). That puts him on pace to challenge the NCAA marks of 215.7 yards per game and 2,157 receiving yards (set by Scott Pingel, Westminister, Mo., 1998), and 142 receptions (Manny Hazard, Houston, 1989).

Such talk halfway through his first season is even more surprising when you consider he's new to the receiver position.

Like others recruited to play in Mike Leach's spread formation that routinely sends four or five receivers out, Crabtree played quarterback in high school. He threw 11 TDs and ran for nine more as a senior at Dallas Carter High School.

Leach said he was attracted to the altheticism displayed by Crabtree, who at 6-foot-3 also boasts a vertical leap of 34 inches and starred as a high school basketball player.

``He made a lot of plays and was really good with the ball in his hands,'' Leach said. ``Had a good sense of space. The surprise with him is that he was able to make the transition to receiver as fast as he did.''

Carter coach Allen Wilson said Crabtree possesses a staunch work ethic and an enthusiastic charisma.

``You've got to have a drive and a want-to, and Michael has both of them,'' Wilson said. ``He tries to be the best at what he does.''

His quarterbacking history has helped him at receiver, too.

``He's knows what I'm thinking,'' Harrell said. ``He kind of has a quarterback's mind and knows where to go to get the ball.''

Crabtree also knows the importance of having a short memory.

He already had 14 catches for 237 yards when with 11 seconds remaining in Tech's 49-45 loss at Oklahoma State last month when he let a 15-yard pass from Harrell bounce off his hands in the end zone.

``I'm probably not going to have any mistakes again,'' Crabtree said. ``I just think it was one little mistake and nobody should put it all on me like that.''

Crabtree was courted by Tech, Oklahoma, Kansas and Kansas State. He was excited by the possibilities of the offense at Tech, noting: ``Most receivers at other schools won't see as many passes as we do. So it was definitely in my mind.''

His final decision came after talking to his cousin, former Tech running back Ricky Williams.

``I just went off of what he said and since he's family, family never going to lie to you, so I chose Tech.'' Crabtree said.