Years ago, back when he was an underclassman at Columbus East High School and unsure of his future, Harry Crider would occasionally make the 50-minute drive to Bloomington for Indiana football games. Those trips were memorable not because of the action on the field, but for all the other things Crider saw — the half-full stadium, the halftime exodus, the lack of enthusiasm around campus.
Crider, a budding college football prospect at the time, was struck by the apathy.
“Coming here to play football was not even in consideration,” Crider said. “I remember coming to those games and it was just never really even close.”
But things changed. With a desire to stay closer to home, Crider flipped his commitment from Virginia early in his senior year of high school, and looking back now — days before what could be his final football game — he’s thankful that he did.
“Where we are now is crazy,” Crider said Tuesday. “I am so glad to have been a part of it, building that foundation my first couple of years here. Then, thriving as we are now.”
Crider has done his part to help the transformation take hold, splitting time between the center and guard sports during his four years with the program. And he may not be done after this weekend. With all fall sport athletes granted an extra year of eligibility, Crider and his classmates have the option to return in 2021.
Those conversations with IU coach Tom Allen haven’t happened yet, and Crider says he hasn’t figured out exactly what he wants to do. But he should have a solid idea of his next step in the coming days.
Crider spent the fall semester working on his master’s in criminal justice and public safety.
“That’s a decision I’m going to make for sure soon after the bowl game,” he said.
Even if he doesn’t return to man the center position in Bloomington next season, Crider’s football career still may not be over. On Tuesday, it was announced that Crider and IU defensive lineman Jerome Johnson were invited to participate in the annual East-West Shrine Bowl, a showcase event for NFL hopefuls.
Because of the pandemic, there’s no game this year. But Shrine Bowl organizers are still using the platform to connect invitees with NFL representatives. So it’s no empty invitation.
“The Shrine Bowl is a huge opportunity,” Crider said. “They’re giving opportunities to meet virtually with NFL scouts and all that — just that whole training process. Even getting invited is a big opportunity and I’m super thankful for that.”
Consider it one more of the many opportunities presented through Crider’s decision to attend IU, the place he wasn’t sure was committed to football just a few years ago.
“It has been special,” he said. “It means a lot more being from Indiana, just seeing the growth that it has made throughout my lifetime.”