Kitan Crawford grew up wanting to be a Longhorn and on Wednesday his dream came true as the John Tyler senior football standout inked with the University of Texas on Early National Signing Day.

Crawford signed during a ceremony before family, friends, coaches and classmates, many adorned in burnt orange and flashing the “Hook’em” signs at John Tyler High School’s Auxiliary Gym.

“Now it is official; I signed with the University of Texas; it is a dream come true,” said Crawford, a four-star recruit who was the first to officially sign with UT on Wednesday.

He said he always loved Texas, but “I grew up around Baylor because my auntie (Shelitrice Bonner) ran track at Baylor. When I took my official visit to Texas, it just felt like home.”

While Crawford, who made honorable mention Class 5A All-State at both running back and defensive back, played offense, defense and special teams for the Lions, he is projected as a cornerback at Texas, joining other East Texas Longhorn DBs in Brandon Jones and Josh Thompson of Nacogdoches, Demarvion Overshown of Arp and Montrell Estell of Hooks.

“East Texas is like a brotherhood, a special group,” said Crawford, who added it feels good to represent his hometown, school and region. “We (East Texans) take that to heart.”

Crawford joined fellow East Texans — Lufkin safety Jerrin Thompson and Longview defensive tackle Sawyer Goram-Welch — signing with the Longhorns on Wednesday.

“This is a great opportunity; I am very grateful and blessed,” Crawford said. “Not everyone gets this chance, this opportunity. I am so thankful. I thank my mom (Natika Johnson), auntie (Shelitrice Bonner), (JT head coach Ricklan) Holmes and (JT assistant) coach (Jayme) Moore, my teammates and coaches.”

At 5-11 and 200 pounds, Crawford ranks as the nation’s No. 159 ranked prospect, No. 11 cornerback and No. 24 in the state of Texas, according to Composite.

Crawford signed with Texas over offers from several programs, including Tennessee, Arkansas, Baylor and Oklahoma, among others. His final three were Texas, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

Texas cornerbacks coach Jason Washington played a key role in Crawford signing early, as the assistant coach remains one of the top recruiters on head coach Tom Herman’s coaching staff.

After winning the Sugar Bowl over Georgia last season, the expectations for Texas were very high for the 2019 season, but the Longhorns struggled to a 7-5 mark and Herman eventually demoted his offensive coordinator Tim Beck and fired his defensive coordinator Todd Orlando. Former Rutgers coach Chris Ash is the new DC.

“I know we didn’t have the season we wanted,” Crawford said. “We have a big class signing today and we will bounce back. Coach Herman will make some adjustments.”

Crawford said expectations are high in Austin, adding he is ready to get started.

LION TALES: University of Houston freshman and former teammate of Crawford, Ke’Andre Street, was in attendance for his friend’s signing. ... Holmes said other Lions will sign Feb. 5 during National Signing Day.



Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.

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