By Fred J. Robledo
If you would have told Glendora High School’s Skyler Crall that his 2011 football season would lead to the 6-foot-2, 240-pound linebacker being invited to to the Inaugural Blue-Grey National All-Star senior football game in Tampa Bay, Fl., on Saturday, he would have wondered if you were talking about someone else.
“I always thought I was just an average player, I never imagined being invited to something like this,” said Crall, in Tampa Bay this week with his family preparing for Saturday’s game at Raymond James Stadium at 5 p.m.
Fox Sports Florida is showing the game on a live stream on its Prep Zone webpage.
Crall was one of the lone bright spots on a Tartans team that finished 3-7 and struggled in the tough Baseline League.
But Crall had his moments, and was arguably the Tartans’ best all-around performer against one of the toughest schedules in the Valley.
The linebacker led the team in tackles and sacks with 57 and seven respectively. He also recovered two fumbles, had an interception and was one of the area’s best fullbacks, making life easier for backs Corey Victoria and Donovan Holmes. (To continue reading, click thread).
Crall was hardly noticeable as a junior, partly because he didn’t play on offense.
Tartans coach Todd Quinsey only coached one season with the Tartans before leaving to pursue other opportunities, but he admits that Crall was a huge surprise.
“If you watched him on film (his junior year) he was alright, but something happened where he figured it out,” Quinsey said. “Something happened where he developed and become a very good football player.
“He was a leader for us. When I got hired all the talk was about Victoria and Holmes, I didn’t realize we had a big, bruising fullback too. When you think of how well he played and how tough the competition was, he was as good as anyone in the Valley.”
Crall earned second team all-area honors at linebacker.
“We didn’t have a great season, but if we play one more game or make the playoffs, he’s on the all-area first team, and probably should have been there anyway,” Quinsey said. “I don’t know if there was a better linebacker in the area, especially against the competition we played against.
“He was the one player on defense you had to game-plan for. He was a great tackler, and I’m not surprised that he got noticed and is playing in this game.”
The selection process for the Blue-Grey game began with 2,700 players attending different combines throughout the country.
Crall attended a combine in Oxnard, and was one of the top 20 performers to be invited to Canton, Oh., where the 2,700 players was narrowed down to the top 220.
In Canton, Crall performed well again, and was one of the 92 players selected for Saturday’s all-star game.
“I didn’t think I would make it this far to be honest with you,” Crall said. “We didn’t have a very good season and nobody really knew who I was.
“But at these camps I thought I did well. My confidence grew and grew to where I feel like I belong here.”
Crall also realizes this may be his ticket to earning a college scholarship.
There are dozens of college scouts expected on Saturday, and Crall’s size and athleticism are appealing.
“I hope I have a good game and impress someone,” Crall said. “I have the heart to play and the ambition to play and this is a really big opportunity to show what I can do.
“I feel like I can play in college, especially after what I’ve gone through to get here.”
His coach certainly agrees.
“He can play in college,” Quinsey said. “I don’t know what division or what level, but people are going to notice him this weekend. “He can definitely play linebacker, but for teams who run a pro-set type thing, he’s a typical fullback who can get tough yards and has great hands out of the backfield.”