The day was September 17, 2010 at 7pm. It was a perfect evening for “Friday Night Lights” in the state of Georgia. Yes, high school football was being show on ESPN 2 in nearby LaGrange. The LaGrange Grangers vs Carver-Columbus Tigers was a made for TV matchup between two top ranked programs. The main attraction was senior Isiah Crowell, running back for Carver. Three touchdowns, 200 yards, and three hours later, it was no question he was well worth the price of admission. Carver won the game21-3 and would finish the year 13-1 with a loss in the semifinals. Crowell was the #1 recruited running back and the 4th best overall football player in the nation. He chose to attend the University of Georgia (UGA).
Crowell was low on the depth chart at running back for UGA beginning his freshman year in 2011. However, a transfer and an academic ineligibility by the other backs allowed for him to start the third game of the season. He proved it was a good decision by rushing for 86 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. He would have 116 yards rushing against South Carolina, 147 yards rushing against Ole Miss, 104 yards rushing against Mississippi State, and 132 yards rushing against Auburn. Crowell would finish the season with 850 yards rushing and five touchdowns as the South Eastern Conference’s Freshman of the Year. The future seemed bright for him and UGA.
June 29, 2012 was the day that an “audible” was called. A simple dual direction checkpoint led to Crowell being arrested that Friday morning and charged with two felonies (weapon in a school zone and an altered ID mark) and a misdemeanor (possession/carrying a concealed weapon). By Friday afternoon he was dismissed from the UGA football team. This could have easily been the end of Crowell as a football player and a person in general, but he didn’t let this stop him. He enrolled at nearby Alabama State University (ASU) in July of the same year. He led them with 843 yards rushing that season, 15 touchdowns and a 7-4 record. The following year, 2013, Crowell lead ASU to an 8-4 record with 1,121 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. He declared himself for the 2014 National Football League (NFL) Draft.
On May 10, 2014 Crowell signed as an undrafted free agent with the Cleveland Browns. His dream of playing in the NFL had finally come true. Not the path that he wanted, but thru resiliency and determination he made it. His first game he rushed for 32 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played in all 16 games finishing the season rushing for 607 yards on 148 carries and eight touchdowns. In 12 games this season, he has rushed for 397 yards, probably because the Browns haven’t fully committed to running the ball. Again he is faced with another bleak outlook in his football career.
December 14, 2015 with Mom in attendance for the Browns verse the San Francisco 49ers, Crowell has his best game of his NFL career. He rushes for 145 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. The Browns win the game 24-10 to win their third game of the season and stop a seven game losing streak. This performance was the one that was anticipated back in 2010. This was the Crowell that had almost lost it all but stood tough and preserved to reach this point. This is the road to redemption.