On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

heavy-rain-night
38°
Showers
H 45° L 42°
  • heavy-rain-night
    38°
    Current Conditions
    Showers. H 45° L 42°
  • rain-day
    45°
    Today
    Showers. H 45° L 42°
  • cloudy-day
    54°
    Tomorrow
    Mostly Cloudy. H 54° L 38°
Listen
Pause
Error

News on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

College
Homegrown: The hard #LLB to ‘DGD’ road for Tae Crowder at Georgia
Close

Homegrown: The hard #LLB to ‘DGD’ road for Tae Crowder at Georgia

Homegrown: The hard #LLB to ‘DGD’ road for Tae Crowder at Georgia

Homegrown: The hard #LLB to ‘DGD’ road for Tae Crowder at Georgia

EDITOR'S NOTE: This original Tae Crowder story continues a special series in partnership with Georgia Farm Bureau profiling homegrown talent from the state of Georgia. To access the other HomeGrown Talent articles, please visit the series hub on DawgNation.com.

The eye black can tell the Tae Crowder story. Or at least kick it off.

Crowder's eye black is the 2019 model. It no longer requires a big jumbo marker.The strip of black adhesive allows the wearer to write on that strip.

He has done so often in his breakthrough senior year. It could convey his struggle and pain, but he chooses hope instead.

It is limited, though. It cannot trace the position changesbefore he settled in during his fifth season in Athens. He now patrols the middle of Georgia's nationally-rated defense. Yet his season is not an example of one of the oldest guys on the team finally being good enough.

It is more like he is finally being great.

Close

Homegrown: The hard #LLB to ‘DGD’ road for Tae Crowder at Georgia

The Harris County High alum (Hamilton, Ga.) did soak up four previous seasons of how the Georgia staff sculpts and molds its ILBs, including three under Kirby Smart.

Now, he's finally earned the starting reps.

That's a good story, but this takes a speed turn towards the exceptional with the way he's played this fall. His recent selection as a Butkus Award semifinalist jacks up the degree of difficulty with his climb a great deal.

That Butkus recognition places the first-year starter among the top 12 linebackers in college football.

How does one go from four career starts to a Butkus semifinalist? What powers such a sharp hairpin turn in his football career?

Check the film each week. Then check his eye black. These scripts in white ink have been seen this fall:

"#LLB 4s up"

"Phillippians 4:13"

His head coach could start his story there, too. His proud inside linebackers coach knows what those things mean. So does his buddy up in Chicago. That's the one who is younger than him and yet somehow he is the one who is already in his second NFL season.

Crowder just never gave up. Never. He just never walked back his dream to play for Georgia. That's what impresses his family the most.

"LLB 4s up" is for his lost older brother. It means Long Live Big.If his brother Cortez Johnson, Jr. was still alive today, he would still just be 23 years young.

Everyone knew him as "Big Man" and not as Cortez Johnson.When Crowder makes a play, that is for him. It was inspired by him, too.

"Every time I make a big play I thank God and I just think about him every time," Tae Crowder said.

When he said that, he took a breath. Pausing his train of thought to point to the initials "LLB" that are also tattooed across his chest and neck.

"This tat is all him," he said. "I feel like where ever I go, then he is with me."

Close

Homegrown: The hard #LLB to ‘DGD’ road for Tae Crowder at Georgia

Tae Crowder: Coming up out of the mud

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound senior has made a statement with his fifth season in Athens. Check the timeline.

  • 2015: Rated as a 3-star and the nation's No. 221 WR
  • 2015: Was the No. 175 prospect in Georgia and No. 1868 overall (247Sports Composite)
  • 2015: Almost signed with Georgia Southern.
  • 2015: Redshirted. Slated to play RB at Georgia.
  • 2016: Moved to ILB. Played in one game
  • 2017: 15 games played. No starts. Recovered a big Rose Bowl squib.
  • 2018: 15 games played. 4 starts. That's one for every year on campus up to that point.
  • 2018: tarted to get his career "up out of the mud" as he likes to say
  • 2019: Started in all nine games. Second on the team in tackles.
  • 2019: From WR to RB to Butkus Award Semifinalist.

Amid that progression, his world was rocked. Crowder lost his older brother.That's why Crowder chose to write "LLB 4s up" across his eye black for the Notre Dame game.

The year was 2017. It was a traffic accident. Crowder was with his older brother the day before it happened.

The biggest question here will not be why he did not transfer out while he waited for his turn. It is how he kept his head up as he waited for his time at Georgia.

That tweet was from back in 2017. His personal faith had been tested, but it was still strong.

It is represented by that Phillipians 4:13 verse. The wait and the grind to get to the 2019 season feels to him like it was worth the wait.

"It is just a great feeling, man," he said after the Notre Dame game. "I just thank God for it each and every day."

That unbreakable spirit comes from his mother, Felicia. She raised him as a single parent. That set the example. Those who know her and her son wearing that "Dirty 30" Georgia jersey describe them as two of the most positive people in this world.

Crowder already had that spirit about him. When he lost his brother, it just lent even more fuel to his will he was going to make it. Eventually.

Those who know him best clearly believe that.

Close

Homegrown: The hard #LLB to ‘DGD’ road for Tae Crowder at Georgia

Tae Crowder: What "LLB" will always mean to him

Crowder is from Pine Mountain. That part of the state might hold as many Auburn fans as it does Georgia Bulldogs. This week's game will be another special one as it is played closer in proximity to his roots.

He grew up a Bulldog. That "4s up" part of that hashtag is a local thing. If you hear someone from that part of Georgia say "4s up" it is meant to convey they are from Pine Mountain.

There's a reason why he also wears that bible verse beneath his eyes on gamedays. It reads: " I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

His older brother was hit by a car. He was on a motorcycle.

"Right where we would hang out every day," Crowder said. "It was crazy. I was actually at school. It was on a weekend when it happened. It was just crazy."

The two were so close, but they were just half-brothers. It didn't lessen the bond. They were always together, but they were actually like night and day. Tae was the one who liked sports.

Georgia's digital storytellers released a video this week about Crowder. It included the hardship of his brother's passing. He called it one of the biggest challenges of his time at UGA.

It was. More than he lets on in that video. Some members of his family still "can't speak on it" because it makes them so emotional.

When Crowder got the call with the tragic news, he was stunned. He didn't want to believe it. So he didn't allow himself to.

"Then you get that second call and it just confirms it," he said.

He was with him just two days earlier. Crowder left to go back to Georgia for workouts on that Saturday.

"It happened that Saturday night," he said. "I was with him that whole week before that. That Thursday and Friday."

Close

Homegrown: The hard #LLB to ‘DGD’ road for Tae Crowder at Georgia

Crowder's deep voice has some Rick Ross tones to it.

But that was a moment where a few of his deep raspy octaves cracked a little bit.

He got the "LLB" script tattoed across his neck maybe a month or two after that happened. It was necessary. Cathartic. He's been playing to honor him and his memory ever since.

"Yes, sir," he said. "To honor him. No doubt. It showed me I had to go. It showed me I had to grind. I took a loss in my family. It taught me to cherish every moment. You just don't know when your day like that will come."

He still thinks of how his brother motivated him during his senior year of high school ball.

"My senior year all he wanted to see me do was shine," Crowder said. "When I go back and watch the film of my senior year, he was always behind me. He was always putting a hand on my helmet. He was always with me on and off the field. It was just a special bond we had."

When he lost his brother, the Georgia program was there for him.

"The team was there for me, "Crowder says in that video. "The coaches were there for me. They let me come back when I was comfortable. I came back a week later just because I wanted to get better with the team and I used him as my motivation."

He didn't start playing linebacker until the end of his redshirt sophomore year.

"Another challenge I had was just coming home each day not knowing if I was going to ever play," Crowder said. "I didn't know if I still had a love for the sport. I just put my head down and went to work."

Close

Homegrown: The hard #LLB to ‘DGD’ road for Tae Crowder at Georgia

Kirby Smart: His view on the Tae Crowder story

Rewind this year back to Rocky Top. The head coach of the Georgia team was beaming about Crowder's scoop-and-score TD.

Eric Stokes forced the fumble. Crowder claimed it and hauled it for 60 yards for the final points of the 43-14 win. Smart knows what Crowder has gone through so he used the moment to crack a little joke about that ultimate havoc play.

"I told him he was probably the slowest guy on the field by the time he got to the end zone," Smart said. "He looked like a turtle finish."

Close

Homegrown: The hard #LLB to ‘DGD’ road for Tae Crowder at Georgia

Want to watch a game a little differently? Want to know who the good dudes really are? Watch what happens when a Bulldog makes a big play. Do his teammates swallow him up in hugs and helmet slaps they are so happy for him?

With Crowder, his teammates all dap him up. They know. Who he is. What he has worked and waited for.

They are just like Big. His team loves it when their Dirty 30 shines, too.

It was not an easy transition for Crowder at the ILB spot. It was hard. As it should be.

A young man doesn't just put on some magic eye black and shoot out of a cannon to make that big tackle for loss he had against Notre Dame. He had nine tackles that night. Crowder came up with another 12 stops in that tough South Carolina loss.

"The first couple times he played he didn't like contact, he wasn't into that, but he's come so far, and he's such a great story in college football for perseverance and sticking it out and staying and looking to see what he's done," Smart told the Georgia beat reporter pool this year. "It's pretty awesome when you think about that."

Remember that eye black? Crowder was tested early in his Georgia career. He was determined to prove that he could go on and do all things.

It includes being rated as the nation's No. 1868 football player coming out of high school. It means still making impact plays after waiting for your fifth season in the SEC.

It steeled him after a position change. Crowder played in just one game in his first two years at Georgia.

"I've known Tae since the eighth grade, he was a receiver, he got [a] scholarship super late, he came to be a running back, he was going to Georgia Southern, and then he ends up a Georgia," Kirby Smart said earlier this year. "I can still remember the first time we practiced I thought this kid is a good athlete, he's just not going to play running back here."

Now, he's a Butkus semifinalist and a proud member of this program.When he sees his name on the back of that jersey now, it means something to him.

"Because I am from Georgia and I just take full pride in it," he said.

The young man with the #LLB underneath his eyes certainly seems worthy of another set of initials. It would be the hallowed "DGD" label that DawgNation has for players who truly reflect the Bulldog spirit .

With what he's endured to finally make plays for Georgia, Crowder is a Damn Good Dawg if there ever was one.

Close

Homegrown: The hard #LLB to ‘DGD’ road for Tae Crowder at Georgia


Georgia's Homegrown Talent: The DawgNation series

The post Homegrown: The hard #LLB to DGD' road for Tae Crowder at Georgia appeared first on DawgNation.

Read More

News

  • The remains of six victims of a deadly volcano eruption in New Zealand have been recovered. Sixteen people were killed on White Island when a volcano there unexpectedly erupted Monday, The Associated Press reported. Eight military specialists recovered six of the eight victims believed to be on the island, and the bodies will be taken to Auckland for identification, CNN reported. Due to toxic gases still being released from the volcano, the team had to wear protective suits and breathing gear to be on the island, the AP reported. The search had to end as air supplies ran low, the New York Times reported. An additional recovery mission is planned to find a tour guide and boat captain who had taken tourists to the island. At least one of them is expected to be in the water, but the other person’s location is unknown, the AP reported. Forty-seven tourists, many from a Royal Caribbean cruise, and guides were on the island when the volcano exploded. Many of the people who survived were burned. Fifteen tourists not from Australia are in burn units across the country with 11 listed as very critical. Thirteen Australians who were part of the tour have all returned to their home country, the AP reported. Skin banks are sending tissues to hospitals to help treat the burns, as medical teams from Australia, Britain and the U.S. travel to New Zealand to help treat patients, the AP reported.
  • A Minnesota man was sentenced Wednesday to more than 24 years in prison in the death of his 13-day-old son. Michael Herkal, 33, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, nearly 16 months to the day after Apple Valley police responded to an Aug. 12, 2018, medical call for an infant not breathing, WCCO reported. The child died two days later, after doctors determined he had suffered a skull fracture and bleeding in his brain. Herkal was charged initially with felony assault and malicious punishment of a child, but three additional charges of murder were filed after authorities received the autopsy report, KARE11 reported. According to WCCO, Herkal initially told authorities his toddler pulled the newborn off the couch twice but later claimed the baby slipped from his hands and fell onto a coffee table during a diaper change. During his plea hearing, however, Herkal admitted he also shook the infant violently and slapped him, the TV station reported.
  • Major League Baseball announced substantial changes Thursday to its drug use and testing policy, multiple news outlets reported. In addition to removing marijuana from its “drugs of abuse” category – making it the first major US sports league to do so – the organization announced mandatory testing for the presence of opioids, cocaine, synthetic THC, LSD and fentanyl, ABC News reported. Per the policy revisions, players will still be tested for “natural cannabinoids” such as THC, CBD, and marijuana, but punishment for violations will now be treated similarly to those of the alcohol and violence policies, ABC News reported. 'Going forward, marijuana-related conduct will be treated the same as alcohol-related conduct under the Parties’ Joint Treatment Program for Alcohol-Related and Off-Field Violent Conduct, which provides mandatory evaluation, voluntary treatment and the possibility of discipline by a Player’s Club or the Commissioner’s Office in response to certain conduct involving Natural Cannabinoids,” the league, in association with its players union, stated. According to NPR, the policy changes will take effect during 2020 spring training.  “The opioid epidemic in our country is an issue of significant concern to Major League Baseball,” MLB Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem said in a prepared statement, adding, “It is our hope that this agreement - which is based on principles of prevention, treatment, awareness and education - will help protect the health and safety of our Players.” Read more here and here.
  • Seeking emergency mental health assistance could soon be as simple as dialing 988, federal regulators announced Thursday. The Federal Communications Commission formally began the process Thursday to designate 988 as a nationwide suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. “The three-digit number is really going to be a breakthrough in terms of reaching people in a crisis,” Dwight Holton, CEO of suicide prevention nonprofit Lines for Life, told USA Today. “No one is embarrassed to call 911 for a fire or an emergency. No one should be embarrassed to call 988 for a mental health emergency.' According to The Wall Street Journal, the new hotline is intended to simplify access to services available currently by dialing 1-800-273-TALK, the existing National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Once operational, dialing 988 would connect callers to the existing hotline and then route them to nearby crisis centers equipped to provide assistance. “We believe this historical and critical effort will turn the tide on reducing suicides and promote mental wellness in the United States,” said a statement from Kimberly Williams, chief executive of Vibrant Emotional Health, the nonprofit that administers the lifeline, The Journal reported. Read more here and here.
  • An emergency landing by a single-engine plane snarled traffic Thursday night on Interstate 5 in San Diego, multiple news outlets reported. Ian Gregor, public affairs manager for the Federal Aviation Administration, told KNSD the Cessna 182 made a hard landing on the southbound lanes around 7:15 p.m. Within 30 minutes authorities had re-opened two southbound lanes, KFMB reported. Carlsbad Fire Division Chief Mike Lopez told KNSD a man and a woman were on board traveling from the San Gabriel Airport in Los Angeles to McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad. According to KFMB, no injuries were reported, and the plane did not strike any motorists. “They did a pretty good job landing this thing,” Lopez told KNSD, adding, “The skill of that pilot, he did a stellar job.”
  • A Fort Gibson man recently showed off his blacksmith skills by taking first place in a competition television show. Nic Overton, 23, earned the top spot on the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire,” which is centered around blacksmith work. Along with bragging rights, Overton won a $10,000 prize. Overton told KOKI he’s been fascinated with blacksmithing since he was a child and crafted his first knife out of a railroad spike. He managed to turn his hobby into a career. He owns his own business called Nix Knives.