• John Macon Gillespie

Crooks Confident Heading Into Senior Season

For most high school football programs, the offseason brings plenty of change. According to rising senior defensive back Cam Crooks, that has been the case for Northwest Rankin.

The Cougars made a run to the playoffs, but with that lost a talented group of seniors. This spring was spent finding the new faces that will make key contributions in 2017.

“Spring was a process of us younger guys stepping into those roles. It was all about us getting in the groove,” Crooks told SES Mississippi. “On a personal level, it was me becoming a senior by being vocal and getting everybody on the same page.”

With the transition of new faces into key roles, there also comes a change in the way the team operates. Sure, the Cougars will be a familiar region 2-6A contender, with a stout defense and explosive offense. But that’s not the difference Crooks spoke of.

“The atmosphere, and especially the personality of the team is way more energetic,” He noted. “There’s a lot of dancing and moving around. We are young and more vibrant. We speed and a lot of playmaking goes on.”

Now the trick will be for Crooks and the Cougars to parlay that uptick in energy to an increased number of wins. Last season Northwest Rankin finished 4-3 in division play, with an overall eight win mark, but lost to Tupelo in the their first playoff game. Advancing in the playoffs it clearly the goal this fall.

As he moves into a starting role at cornerback, Crooks is looking to play a big role in that team improvement.

“Blessings have come from everywhere and football has been tremendous,” He stated. “I’m going to have my best year this year. My confidence has come from knowing that nobody works harder than me.”

That confidence is something he feels is essential for his success.

“I think having confidence can be confused a lot with cockiness, but I know the time I clock i,” Crooks said. “I feel like nobody is going to be bigger than me and that's the mentality I take. You have to think like that playing corner.”

While moving into a big time role on the field this season, Crooks is also embracing the role he takes off the field. Similar to the way he was ushered into his role, by those before him, by a strong program.

Crooks is taking on the role of showing, guiding and leading younger players who are going through crucial developmental years. Just as he rose through the ranks, he is also trying to help those coming behind him.

“God has blessed me with the opportunities not just to affect my family, but also the kids coming after me,” He said. “I love talking to the younger guys who look up to me. Knowing that I can help someone through life and knowing that some kids just need someone to support them.”

With all of that in mind, Crooks still finds time to think about the upcoming season. One thing he can’t seem to stop thinking about is playing division rival Brandon.

“Because the guys at Brandon are really, really competitive. So when it comes to Friday, their parents are coming to watch them and our parents are coming to watch us. Their student section versus our student section. It’s way bigger than just Northwest Ranking against Brandon,” Crooks explained.

“Games like those are something we will talk about for years, even after high school.”

#NorthwestRankin #JohnLukeMcCord

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