- National Teams
It is the hope of many young basketball players in the UK to head stateside and live the “American dream”, pursuing their budding basketball careers in high school or college and ultimately playing professionally. It was no different for Jack Crawford, Menelik Watson and Matt Williams…except they’ve all ended up playing American Football, and become pretty good at it!
Jack Crawford (pictured above, centre), a former East London Royals player, is the biggest success story of them all. This summer, Crawford was drafted with the 158th pick by the Oakland Raiders, in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL draft (being one of only five international players selected)!
He moved to the U.S. in 2005, intending to pursue basketball as his primary sport. As a junior at St. Augustine (N.J.) Prep in 2006, he joined the football team and found immediate success as a defensive end and tight end.
During his senior season, he emerged as a standout, being rated the No. 15 defensive end in the nation by Scout.com, and ended up with a scholarship to Penn State. The rest, as they say, is history! You can listen to a really insightful interview with Jack after he got drafted here on Double Coverage, a UK American football website.
We’ve already talked about Menelik Watson’s remarkable story (pictured above, right),but it continues to be added to as he has locked up the starting spot at Florida State and has even been named ACC player of the week.
Menelik had been playing basketball at D1 school Marist before making the switch and heading to Saddleback Community College to play American Football. He committed to FSU in February, and now, having only been playing football a little over a year, is garnering national attention, with this nice feature from ESPN last month, as well as being called one of the best linemen in the ACC earlier this week.
Finally, Matt Williams (pictured above, left), a former Manchester Magic player and England U16 basketball captain will be playing offensive line for California Golden Bears this season. Williams redshirted last season after joining Cal as the 44th best JUCO recruit in the nation.
Originally from Liverpool, he moved to the US aged 15 to Proctor Academy, a prep school in New Hampshire, to play both soccer and basketball before switching to the gridiron shortly after. This will be his first season playing D1, having sat out last year, so it’ll be interesting to see how he does.
So there you have it…I wonder who’s next?!