Michael Crabtree Career: A Texas Tech Legend

Graphic of Texas Tech great Michael Crabtree
Graphic by Campus Live Graphic Designer Adrian Gutierrez

Michael Crabtree Career From Past to Present

When talking about former Texas Tech Football players, there are many that come to mind. Some include big names such as Danny Amendola, Terrance Steele, and Patrick Mahomes, just to name a few. Before any of those names comes one of the most infamous wide receivers to ever come through Texas Tech, that being Michael Crabtree. 

        This Saturday, September 19th, at 11:30 am, at the Overton Hotel and Conference, Crabtree will receive one of the most prestigious awards offered by his alma mater. That award and honor being inducted in the Ring of Honor as the sixth ever be inducted as he will join prestigious company. 

High School Years

        Michael Crabtree was born in Dallas, Texas, and would attend David W. Carter High School, where he would play quarterback. In his senior campaign, he would pass for 870 yards, 11 touchdowns, and contribute on the ground with 646 yards rushing with nine touchdowns. After displaying his athleticism as a dual-threat quarterback, Crabtree would graduate as a four-star recruit ranked 51st in the state of Texas. 

        When first visiting Texas Tech, former Red Raider basketball coach Bob Knight would go as far as recognizing Crabtree’s athleticism to make him an offer to play. With several offers on the table from big-time programs, Crabtree, as you may know, would decide to attend Texas Tech University playing for Mike Leach, and from there, the rest is history, 

Michale Crabtree College Years

Freshman Year

        In his first year as a college student-athlete, Crabtree would be redshirted as he would train from quarterback to wide receiver. After sitting out his first year, Crabtree would have his chance in his first collegiate start against SMU. Crabtree would not hold back in the 49-9 dominant win, tallying up 106 yards, twelve catches, and three touchdowns in his college debut. 

        After a dominant first game, Crabtree would continue to punish secondary’s and eventually break the record for touchdown passes caught by a freshman. He would finish his freshman campaign with 134 catches, 1962 yards, and 22 touchdowns. 

Sophomore Season

        After an impressive first season, Crabtree would be added to the Heisman Awards watchlist before his sophomore season. After fighting an ankle sprain through the season, Crabtree would continue his dominance on the field. While the Red Raiders would fly through the schedule with several wins, they would find themselves ranked and face off against Big 12 Conference rival and No. 1 ranked Texas. Michael Crabtree would do the unexpected in one of the most influential moments in Texas Tech and college football history. Down 33-32 deep in Longhorn territory with eight seconds left in the game in a quick pass from Graham Harrel with double coverage Crabtree would catch the ball inside the 10-yard line. After catching the ball, he would make a defender miss and sprint into the endzone with a second left. 

        After finishing out the remainder of the season, he would finish with 97 catches, 1165 yards, and 19 touchdowns to finish out his collegiate career. 

Notable Records and Awards

        Wrapping up his collegiate career, some of Michael Crabtree’s notable records and awards are worth stating. Crabtree would finish fifth in the Heisman race with three first-place votes and be named the cover of NCAA Football 10. 

        As for NCAA records, he would tally up plenty of those as well. He would finish with most passes caught by a freshman; most passes caught in a game by a freshman, most yards gained by a freshman, most yards gaining 100 yards or more by a freshman, most touchdown passes caught by a freshman, just to name a few.  

        He would also be named a unanimous All-American in both of his seasons. He also is a two-time Biletnikoff Award and Paul Warfield Award winner again, just to name a few. Crabtree also accumulated stacked up a pile of Big 12 awards before he would forgo the NFL Draft. 

Michael Crabtree NFL Years 

        Fast forward months later, Crabtree would be drafted as the No. 10 overall pick in the NFL and go to the San Francisco 49ers. Prior to performing at the NFL Combine, Crabtree would fracture his left foot, which would require surgery. 

San Francisco 49er’s

        After getting healthy, Crabtree would hold out before signing a contract with the 49ers. Eventually, Crabtree and the 49ers franchise would agree on a six-year deal worth $32 million with $17 million guaranteed. 

        In his NFL debut, Crabtree would catch a 38-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith. He would finish his rookie season leading in all rookie receivers in yards per game with 56.8. Fast-forward to the 2010 season; Crabtree would face the sophomore slump, only catching 55 passes for 741 yards and six touchdowns. 

        With a reputation in the NFL, Crabtree would have a fair 2011 season. But would excel in the 2012 season as he would help lead the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII. Now catching passes from Collin Kaepernick and playing in the biggest stage in the world for football, he would have five catches for 109 yards. In an excellent performance, the 49ers would lose to the Baltimore Ravens in a close game 34-31. 

        Now in his fourth season with the San Francisco 49ers, Crabtree would tear his Achilles and require surgery and six months of recovery. In response, the 49ers would place him on the injured reserve list and return as early as November. Then he would start his first game of the season on December 1st against the Rams. He would be able to contribute with two catches for 68 yards. He would then have his 2013 season ended in the NFC Championship. This would happen from an under-thrown pass from Kaepernick to Crabtree that would be tipped and intercepted to end the 49ers season. 

        Heading into the 2014 season, there was much uncertainty with Crabtree’s position on the 49er’s and would go on to be his last season with the team. He would depart from the team with 347 catches, 4.327 yards, and 26 touchdowns as a 49er. Now he would look into his future in the NFL. 

Oakland Raiders

        In 2015 Crabtree would find a new home in the league with the Oakland Raiders. The deal would only be a one-year deal worth $3.2 million, and after a successful 2014 season, it would soon change. 

        After performing well and earning his keep with the Raiders, Crabtree would sign a 4-year $35 million extension to keep his NFL career combined. He would finish his first year with the Oakland Raiders with 85 catches for 922 yards and nine touchdowns. 

        Now an established receiver for his quarterback Derek Carr, Crabtree would record his second-ever 1,000-yard receiving season. Crabtree would finish the season with 89 catches, 1003 yards, and eight touchdowns, with several highlight catches throughout the season. The 89 catches would go on to be Crabtree’s career-high throughout his time in the NFL. 

        Fast-forward to the 2017 season; Crabtree would have an eventful season. He would record a career-high three receiving touchdowns in week two against the Jets. Weeks later, he would have a game-winning touchdown catch against the Chiefs in week seven. Further down the line in the 2017 season, Crabtree would get into some trouble. After getting into an on-the-field altercation with the Bronco’s Aqib Talib and would eventually serve a one-game suspension. 

        Following the 2017 season and playing for the Raiders for three seasons, Crabtree would be released. He would finish his time up in Oakland, compiling 232 catches for 2543 yards and 25 touchdowns. 

Baltimore Ravens 

        After being released from the Raiders, Crabtree would land on his feet with the Baltimore Ravens. While having a fair 2018 season shortly after in early 2019, Crabtree would be released. After a short time in Baltimore, he began to seek out another organization to play for. 

Arizona Cardinals 

        With an off-season of much uncertainty, Crabtree would have one more shot at the NFL. He would be signed to a one-year contract by the Arizona Cardinals in August. Playing in just two games, he would later be released in September. Crabtree has since not been signed to another team. 

Michael Crabtree Overall 

        Overall, Michael Crabtree, throughout his career, has been a showstopper. From playing quarterback in high school to being one of the best wide receivers in the nation in college, he has kept his reputation. While in the pros, he would compete against some of the best athletes in the world and fare well. He has served his Texas Tech family well.        

        Now inducted into the Ring of Honor, Crabtree will continue representing Texas Tech off the field in a proud and positive manner. 

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Story by Campus Live Employee Trinity Porter

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