Butch Crosby is accustomed to seeing players that he coached at Bamberg-Ehrhardt High head to the next level to play Division I football. Past Red Raiders include Matt Raysor, Ricky Sapp, Da'Quan Bowers, A.J. Cann, Justin Henderson, Zeph Grimes, David Deleon, and Martin Aiken among others.
Saturday, however, was a bit different for Crosby. This time it was not just one of his players making a major choice on where he would head to play college football; it was his son.
Kevin Crosby, a four-star athlete, placed a garnet Gamecock hat on his head during a short ceremony at Savannah Creek Baptist Church, where he plays drums every Sunday. The crowd, full of family and friends, broke into applause after the announcement and stuck around for pictures. First, Butch Crosby had a phone call to make to USC running backs coach Everette Sands.
"He was just excited," the elder Crosby told GamecockCentral.com. "He said 'coach, we're excited to have K.C. come on board with us.'"
Butch Crosby has coached his son for years now, watching him develop into a 6-foot-2, 240-pounder that is a dominant force on both sides of the ball.
"Even being around a lot of Division I talents, you still question," he said, asked when he knew that his son would be a major college prospect. "Just going back and having a chance to evaluate film at the end and send the film out to different schools, schools coming in and watching film and tell you what they look for in DI players. That's been the biggest thing for us. We take the evaluation they give us, then take that and work on those fundamentals. God blessed us to have a lot of young men, coaches willing to take their time to develop these young men. You just look back on it and thank God for being at this appointed place and time. Going all the way back to the Ricky Sapp era, every year we've had somebody come through here talented enough to play Division I ball."
Crosby's mother, Denise, was cited by K.C. as "his rock" throughout the recruiting process last month in a one-on-one interview with GamecockCentral.com. Denise made sure that her son leaned on his faith to help him make the choice.
"My biggest thing was, pray and ask God," she said. "Wherever you need to be is going to be the right place for you. Academics are first and foremost, most important to me and the location because KC is a family person. We looked at all those things."
K.C.'s uncle Corey, an assistant coach for the Red Raiders, is the point man for colleges looking to recruit Bamberg-Ehrhardt's football prospects and frequently handles film distribution, visits, and correspondence.
"It was great at the beginning getting offers," Corey said. "He worked hard. It was a great process. At the end it kind of got a little difficult. He did it the right way."
With over forty offers and calls being fielded up until Friday night from assistant coaches, recruiting did get hectic at times for Crosby. As a mother, it pained Denise Crosby to see her son become besieged at times.
"It was OK," she said of the recruiting process. "The only time that disturbed me was when he became overwhelmed. My main concern is Kevin. When he became overwhelmed, I could see it was interfering with his work and focus. We had to shut things down and focus on this. Everything else will fall into place."
A low-pressure approach from South Carolina was cited by K.C. Crosby as well as his family after the announcement on Saturday as a contributing factor to the Gamecock staff being able to land him.
"It wasn't high-pressure," Butch explained. "They came by and visited just to say hey. They let us know they're still interested, that he has a home here in Columbia."
"Carolina's whole staff got involved," Corey said. "From the secondary up to the head coach, we knew everybody. Coach (Lorenzo) Ward, Coach (Everette) Sands, Coach (Joe) Robinson. Coach (Shawn) Elliott, one thing that sticks out to us was he said 'listen, I've got nothing else to show you. This is it, this is South Carolina. You come here you're going to play SEC football and have a chance to win an SEC championship.' It wasn't any negative bashing of any school. That stuck out because that's what we do here. We always talk about working hard and not worrying about anybody else, just worrying about yourself."
Denise Crosby accompanied her son on a recruiting visit to Columbia last summer in which she got an in-depth look at the academic side of things. Once she returned, she was sold.
"What I liked the most was that I went in there and had a chance to talk to the director. I asked 'how can you help my child?' She went through the process and explained and let me know about the assessments, how they find out what type of learner they are, what their strengths are. That was important because now you're taking my child's education personally."
Butch Crosby believes that his son will succeed as a student-athlete not only because of his talent, but because he has been set up well by the tradition at Bamberg-Ehrhardt and his work ethic.
"He works hard off the field. He goes in, lifts weights. He comes out here and works out and runs, does extra drills. We have a good group of guys. That's what makes those guys such special guys when they go off to college. They're so used to working hard, so that helps them."