By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Baldwin Park High School linebacker Wardell Crutchfield showed that in the end, grades were more important that football. Crutchfield had given a verbal commitment to the University of Texas El Paso on a full athletic scholarship back in August, but learned later that UTEP didn’t have enough scholarships available for him to enroll in the fall. UTEP wanted Crutchfield to grayshirt, meaning he would have to enroll in a community college in the fall and start at UTEP next January – which is a delayed form of red-shirting and a way that UTEP could still honor the scholarship it offered to Crutchfield.
UTEP’s decision forced Crutchfield to rethink his plans too, and on Wednesday he gave a verbal commitment to attend the University of Georgetown and its football team after weighing other scholarship offers from Eastern Michigan, Southern Utah and Villanova.
In the end, the prestige of enrolling at one of the best academic institutions in the country meant the most to Crutchfield, who carries a 4.0 GPA and who wants to major in psychology and minor in business.
Crutchfield’s father, Wardell Crutchfield Sr., the former coach at Duarte who was an assistant at Baldwin park after Crutchfield Jr., transferred there his junior season, was as proud as can be.
Crutchfield Sr., graduated and played football at San Jose State and knows how important a good education is.
“As his father, a proud parent, this is the ultimate for me,” Crutchfield Sr., said. “It goes to show you that he’s thinking of his future, not just in football, but what he wants to do later in life.
“Football is just part of it, he works so hard on his grades and that part of it paid off. There was a point when Cornell was recruiting him, you don’t get that unless you take care of business in the classroom, which he always has done.”
What makes Crutchfield’s decision more impressive is that he didn’t get a full scholarship to Georgetown, which was offered to him from UTEP and other schools.
But it was close too it, Georgetown’s scholarship offer pays roughly 90 percent of tuition and room and board, which was fine with Crutchfield Sr.
“It’s Georgetown,” Crutchfield Sr., said. “They’re taking care of most of the expenses, but if a little has to come out of our pocket, that’s fine, look at what you’re getting in the end.”
Braves defensive back Demetrius Jackson, who transferred to Baldwin Park from Duarte with Crutchfield and who lives with the Crutchfield’s, has a recruiting trip scheduled to Portland State on Friday and will makes his decision over the weekend, just a few days before the Feb. 2 signing day.
Like Crutchfield, Jackson had the same offer on the table to UTEP, but when he was asked to greyshirt too, he backed out of his commitment and started looking at other schools.
And like Crutchfield, Jackson also has a 4.0 GPA.
“Both of these kids deserve credit for what they’re doing in the classroom,” Crutchfield Sr., said. “That’s why they have the options they do.”