High School Sports

Harding freshman Quavaris Crouch shows promise, wants to ‘make mark’ at school

Harding freshman running back Quavaris Crouch squeezes a football in the Harding football locker room. Harding coach Sam Griner thinks he may have the best running back in Mecklenburg County history in 6-2, 200 pound Crouch, who is already being recruited by UNC and Clemson. "Some people are just made for the sport," Griner says of Crouch.
Harding freshman running back Quavaris Crouch squeezes a football in the Harding football locker room. Harding coach Sam Griner thinks he may have the best running back in Mecklenburg County history in 6-2, 200 pound Crouch, who is already being recruited by UNC and Clemson. "Some people are just made for the sport," Griner says of Crouch. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Harding High football coach Sam Greiner says Rams freshman running back Quavaris Crouch has the ability to become one of the best running backs in Mecklenburg County history. And, yes, he knows how that sounds.

All-time greats such as Myers Park’s Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick, South Mecklenburg’s Steve Griffin, Charlotte Catholic’s Elijah Hood and West Charlotte Brian Knuckles stockpiled local and state accolades and championships.

Still, Greiner believes Crouch, who is 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, has more than a good shot to join those elite running backs.

“God made him to play football, to be honest,” said Greiner, whose team is 1-9 and ends the season Friday at home against West Mecklenburg. “I remember, he comes in here last summer and I’m trying to build a program, and it’s tough and you’ve got nothing to hang your hat on.

“This guy walks in, and I’m like ‘Where are you transferring from?’ He said, ‘I’m in ninth grade.’ I’m just in shock. He looked like a senior.”

The first day, Greiner said, Crouch bench pressed 260 pounds and squatted 315. Greiner said it was impressive that a freshman was stronger than many seniors. Throughout the season, Crouch has consistently flashed potential.

Last week, Harding lost 21-8 to Olympic, but Crouch had 137 yards rushing on 14 carries. He had four catches for 89 yards and a touchdown. He also had a two-point conversion. Because of injuries on defense, Crouch also started the past two weeks at linebacker. Guess who is leading the Rams in tackles with 19 in the past two games?

“You look at him and think, ‘This kid has it all and he doesn’t have to work hard,’ ” Greiner said. “But he wants to be great. I coached (South Carolina linebacker) Larenz Bryant when he was at Vance and he was special. Quavaris is stronger than Larenz as a freshman.

“I played with (former Independence all-conference star) Mario Crowe in college (at Catawba), and he was one of the best I’ve ever seen coming out of high school. Quavaris will be better. I’m telling you he’ll be the best there ever was in Charlotte when it’s all said and done.”

Crouch has speed, having run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds. And he’s been productive, rushing for 848 yards on 119 carries and six touchdowns this season. He’s caught nine passes for 179 yards.

“He’s amazing,” Ardrey Kell coach Joe Evans said. “He reversed field on us on one run and we had him in the backfield for a 5-yard loss. He had a great game against us and we stacked the box against him. He’s going to be special.”

Similar in size to Hood when he was in high school, Evans was asked if he thought Crouch could approach the success of the former Charlotte Catholic star, now a sophomore at North Carolina.

“I don’t know if anybody can be that special, like Hood,” Evans said, “but I’ll give him that. If he works hard and embraces it, I think he could be that good.”

Crouch credits his cousin, West Charlotte defensive end Marlon Dunlap, with encouraging him to work hard from a young age.

“He told me I had the talent and to work hard,” Crouch said of Dunlap, a 6-4, 290-pound senior who recently committed to play for North Carolina. “He was in high school and he would say, ‘Lift weights. See how it helped me?’ So I did it. I want to be the best. I want to be great.”

Crouch added that he plans to play all four years at Harding, which has struggled for years.

“I want to be the leader of something new,” he said. “You know how people always downgrade Harding and a lot of people tell you to transfer? I said, I won’t because we can do something here. I don’t want to go somewhere else and people say, ‘He’s just part of the program.’ I want to make my own mark.”

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