Steele High School defensive back Chace Cromartie (’19) recently visited Texas Tech on Junior Day. He has also visited Houston, attended a Texas football camp and will be at Abilene Christian’s Junior Day on Friday, April 6.
Cromartie said he felt comfortable during his first trip to Lubbock, which is about a six-hour drive from his hometown of Cibolo, and that he wants to go back to see more.
“I think it’s a college town where I could concentrate on my studies, work hard on becoming a better football player, but still find things to blow off steam and relax when needed,” Cromartie told Armchair.
Currently without a star-rating from the major recruiting services, Cromartie didn’t even realize that he was on the radar of the Texas Tech coaching staff. He said he received praise from most of the coaches during the visit, but especially defensive coordinator David Gibbs and safeties coach Brett Dewhurst.
At 165 pounds, Cromartie knows he needs to add to his frame, and Gibbs reassured him that the Raider coaches can help him with that. Dewhurst also made it clear that Cromartie’s talents are wanted in Lubbock, regardless of his current size.
“I have written almost every school in Texas to try to make introductions and gauge interest,” Cromartie said. “Texas Tech has been there since the beginning, and they have heavy interest from me as well.”
Cromartie’s lack of recruitment could very well be attributed to his small sample-size of vasity playing time – he didn’t become a starter for Steele until week six of the 2017 season. After receiving an evaluation the spring before, he knew wouldn’t have a starting job as senior Caden Sterns (Texas commit) and JT Woods (Baylor commit) had firm holds on the two safety positions.
This didn’t get Cromartie down, though, as he continued to watch both Sterns and Woods during practice. He learned about work ethic, being a leader and setting an example for his teammates. When the season started, Cromartie played limited time and went through a stretch of games on special teams, he told Armchair.
“For years I had an extra push to be as good, if not better, than the people in front of me,” Cromartie said. “Sterns, as good as he is, was still probably the hardest working guy there.”
Following a game against Judson on Friday, Sept. 29, in Converse, Texas, Cromartie earned a starting role due to a 10-tackle performance that saw him win Defensive Player of the Game honors.
After the game against Judson, Steele went on to win the rest of its games until losing to Westlake in the UIL 6A D2 Quarterfinals, 28-14, to finish the season 9-5 overall. In the UIL State Championships, Steele defeated Brennan, Vandegrift and Weslaco East. The Knights finished with a 5-2 district record and were ranked No. 50 in Texas, according to MaxPreps.
Cromartie finished the season with 93 total tackles, one pick-six and six pass deflections. The pick-six came in the UIL State Championships in the game against Weslaco East on Friday, Dec. 1.
“There was a lot to prove since I was playing over the guy I was playing over and starting next to the guy I was,” Cromartie told Armchair, speaking again of Sterns and Woods. “Every day, every practice and every game, I wanted to be my best because I knew I had stepped into the role of starter in an elite Steele Knights secondary.”
Texas Tech will have their second spring game on Saturday, April 7, in Frisco and Cromartie will be attending. He’s not sure yet if he’ll make the last Texas Tech spring game at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock the following weekend.
One of the things Cromartie is looking forward to in his next visit is seeing the coaches in action as well as the defensive backs, which he says will help add to his own game.
“I know the defense is big on turnovers. It’s something they spoke about at Junior Day and on Twitter I saw they were at the top of the list in college football,” Cromartie said. “That’s something I’ve already taken back with me and will work on being better at for the 2018 season.”