Tuesday, February 24, 2009

BULLDOG BARD: Football player 'sacks stereotypes,' will study at Oxford

Watch out, Shakespeare - there's a 300-pound defensive lineman headed your way.

Georgia defensive tackle Ricardo Crawford is headed to Oxford, England, this summer to study Shakespeare and English lit at its source, and he's sacking stereotypes at the same time.

"It was kind of a spur of the moment thing," said Crawford, a redshirt sophomore. "I was like, 'Me? Study abroad?' When they asked me I was really, really shocked."

Crawford has a GPA of 2.97, and the cutoff for eligibility for Oxford is 3.0. But he came highly recommended.

"Ricardo has embraced the whole college experience and refuses to be defined or limited by his role as an athlete," said Ted White, Director of the Rankin Smith Academic Center for Student-Athletes. "He'll be a terrific ambassador for the University."

When Crawford departs for his two-week stint in England on June 13, the native of Fair Bluff, N.C will be leaving the country for the first time in his life, but he'll be prepared. Despite being officially listed as a housing major, Crawford said he's studied Shakespeare in the past, and get this - he writes his own poetry, too.

"I have a notebook of about 40 to 50 poems," Crawford said. "I've been writing since sophomore year of high school ... They're about everything. About friends, family, death, sadness, some evil, love. It's more family, love, about past girlfriends, future wives, and being lonely, stuff like that. It's a mixture of everything."

Crawford said he's shown the book of poetry to a few Georgia football players, including receiver Kris Durham, a former roommate.

"He's got a notebook just full of them," Durham said. "He's got some talent. I don't know if that's what he's going to pursue, but he's not too bad ... He's come a long way since we got here."

Though Crawford said succeeding in school (he's on schedule to graduate in December and plans to pursue a Master's degree) and going abroad were two of his life goals, he's still got at least one more to get accomplished.

"I told my best friend, when I die, I want you to do this one thing," he said. "I'm going to put in my will to give my poems to you, and I want you to publish all of my poems for the people to know who Ricardo was and what Ricardo thought."

Who knows what Ricardo will be thinking the first time he sets foot on English soil, or the first time an Oxford professor catches a glimpse of his 6-foot-1, 300-pound frame. But if it's anything like the reaction around Georgia's campus or in the Crawford home, it will be all positive.

Said Crawford: "I really wish my grandmother was here so I could tell her, but I'm pretty sure she's looking down on me, and she's smiling from ear to ear."

By. Tyler Estep