Franklin Road Academy senior offensive and defensive lineman Joe Crocker announced his college decision Monday night at Franklin Road Academy, choosing the Mississippi State Bulldogs over the Michigan State Spartans and Wisconsin Badgers.
“It is a dream to play Power 5 football,” said Crocker. “I am a competitor; I always want to compete against the best. Going to the SEC with the best of the best and first round draft picks all across the field, you really never have a down week.”
Crocker is ranked as the 39th-best offensive tackle in the country, the 15th-best player in the state, and one of the top 500 products in the country for the Class of 2023, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
“This shows that a school like FRA can produce big time college football players,” said FRA head coach Justin Geisinger. “While that is not our purpose to just create and churn college football players, we are much deeper than that. This is clearly a product and outcome of years of hard work from Joe.
"Joe is a unique story himself, coming from England not knowing much about football. He is a big kid (6'6", 306 lbs.) who clearly had a bunch of God-given ability with size and length, and has really worked hard. There are a lot of big guys around the country, but there are not a lot of guys his size that can move. His best football is still ahead of him.”
Joe Crocker was born in England and discovered American football in the fourth grade.
“Moving here, football was not my dream at all,” said Crocker. “My dream was to be a soccer player, honestly. Being in fourth grade and seeing kids on the playground throwing a football, I said well, I will join in on that. They asked me to punt it, and I punted it 50 or 60 yards as a fourth grader. I was always a big kid, so they asked me to come play o-line and d-line.
"My first practice fifth grade year was torture, and I hated it. I told my Mom that I did not want to do this anymore. My Mom said that we just spent all this money on your pads and helmet, you’re not quitting. Eventually I just fell in love with it.”
Crocker will compete in a very stacked SEC Western Division with Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach and staff helping him grow and develop his football skills to an even higher level.
“Mike Leach is so genuine,” said Crocker. “He is himself and does not try to be anyone else. He is a genius and knows everything about everything.”
Joe is another offensive lineman from the mid-state that works with the National Playmakers Academy.
“They helped me a lot,” said Crocker. “Coach Buck, Coach Stone, and Coach Perry taught me o-line technique and being in sync. They are the best of the best, and if you are willing to put in the work, good things will happen. I attribute a lot of my o-line work to them.
“I also train with Jeremy Holt and Curtis Steele,” continued Crocker . “Jeremy trains George Kittle and others in Nashville. Ever since I joined them, my athleticism has skyrocketed.”
Joe is a multi-sport athlete that has played soccer, football, tennis, and baseball.
“I played soccer as a kid. I have tried baseball and tennis and any sport I can get my hands on,” said Crocker. “I think the culmination of playing all those different sports and my hard work really paid off.”
“We cannot preach enough how important it is to have your athletes play multiple sports,” said Coach Geisinger. “We love our two and three-sport athletes. I think that makes them more well-rounded kids, but they are also working a variety of skill sets. I think specialization in one sport year round is taking away some of the best athletes.”
There are plenty of big rivalries in the SEC, and the Egg Bowl (Mississippi State and Ole Miss) is one of the many games that Crocker is looking forward to in his college career.
“It is funny because two of my closest friends, Marcel Reed and Brycen Sanders, are committed to Ole Miss,” said Crocker. “I am excited for that, but honestly any SEC game is a rivalry.”