WATSON – Even when he was younger Live Oak’s Cole Crenshaw believed his powerful right leg would serve him well when it came to finding a vehicle to college.
That notion proved to be accurate, much like his leg, but not without an audible of sorts when it came to reaching his destination.
That’s part of what made the events of Wednesday feel somewhat improbable for Crenshaw, who grew up with a heavy soccer influence, but signed a football scholarship with Arkansas-Monticello during a ceremony in Live Oak’s C.B. Wheat Gymnasium.
“There’s nothing like being a college athlete,” Crenshaw said. “Football gave me this opportunity and instead of (college) almost being paid for, it’s more than paid for now.”
Crenshaw almost has to pinch himself at the prospect of being halfway through his high school days as a member of the school’s soccer program.
When then head football coach and Brett Beard and special teams coach Dexter Thurber went looking to fill a void at kicker going into the spring for the 2018 season, they turned to the school’s successful soccer program.
Following a tryout Crenshaw, who never competitively kicked a football, won the job and went on to become not only a two-year starter for the Eagles, but was considered an important part of the team’s leadership.
“It’s amazing, I would never have thought of this,” Crenshaw said. “Even as a little kid, I thought college isn’t a possibility for playing as a soccer player, that it was mainly for me relying on my academics. I kicked in my backyard in Pee-Wee football. I even played football in the third grade but didn’t kick. I wish we would have jumped on it earlier.”
With Arkansas-Monticello in the market for a kicker and the school’s special teams coach Jordan Frost-Dixon recently in the area recruiting at Denham Springs High, Beard recommended he take a look at Crenshaw, who already held an offer from Louisiana College.
That led to an accelerated recruiting process in which Crenshaw, after talking to Arkansas-Monticello head coach and Louisiana native Hud Jackson, decided to take an official to the school last weekend.
The five-hour trip didn’t appear to be that long after Crenshaw found the complete package he was looking for in a school – a viable football program, an opportunity to kick for a school that could meet the academic requirements of a 4.0 student and AP Scholar.
“I felt fairly comfortable there, it’s a really beautiful campus,” Crenshaw said. “What really sold it for me was how personable they were. Although there were 20 other recruits there almost every coach stopped by and had a conversation with me, asked what position I played and what my major would be.”
The school’s 96% acceptance rate for Pre-Med graduates definitely resonated with Crenshaw.
With Arkansas-Monticello’s second-leading scorer and punter Josh Marini having graduated, it’s Crenshaw’s belief his new school may sign another kicker or bring in a graduate transfer punter, thus creating additional competition along with two other sophomores set to return.
“There’s an opening but there’s going to be competition,” Crenshaw said. “The head coach said he was recruiting me as a kicker and if I could punt, that would be lagniappe.”
Crenshaw dove head-first in the handling all of Live Oak’s kicking duties his first season, giving up soccer in order to focus all of his efforts on place-kicking, kicking off and punting.
He suffered a sprained MCL and missed four weeks after getting a punt blocked but returned to finish the season which included 16-of-17 extra points and 2-of-4 field goals for 22 points scored.
Crenshaw improved on those numbers with 32-of-34 extra points and 8-of-12 field goals, including a long of 41 yards this past season. He wound up with 56 points and was selected to the All-Livingston Parish second team and played in the Red Stick Bowl.
“After my junior year I decided that I could be good at this,” Crenshaw said. “After talks with coach Beard and coach Thurber they thought I had the ability to be more than just a high school kicker. I’m just ready to move on to that next level and work as hard as I can. Not that I haven’t done that, but in that college atmosphere I feel like I can focus more on it and really see where I can go.”