The Las Vegas Raiders’ Best Defensive Player Surprisingly Held 1 Division I Offer Before Dominating His Opponents in the NFL

The Las Vegas Raiders have surprised people so far in the 2021 NFL season. Jon Gruden‘s bunch won three consecutive games to open the season. Now, they will put their unblemished record on the line and battle the Los Angeles Chargers for first place in the AFC West on Monday Night Football.

Several players have emerged as leaders of this Raiders team, including passionate defensive star Maxx Crosby.

Maxx Crosby was lightly recruited out of high school

Maxx Crosby lived in Michigan until he was 10 years old. He grew up in Colleyville, Texas, and played high school ball at Colleyville Heritage High School.

He was not a highly-touted high school prospect, so Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney weren’t knocking on his door. The only college scholarship offer Crosby received was from Eastern Michigan.

“My goal was to go play D1,” Crosby said on The Rich Eisen Show. Eastern Michigan is a Division I FBS school out of the Mid-American Conference. He reached his goal, and then it was time to go to work.

Crosby redshirted as a freshman, making his debut in the 2016 season. He played three seasons for the Eagles, recording 162 tackles, 41 tackles for loss, 20 sacks, and eight forced fumbles. His 20 sacks rank No. 19 all-time in MAC history.

NFL.com draft analysts projected Crosby as a sixth-round pick, mainly because of his slender frame and lack of tape against elite college competition.

Crosby has developed into a fierce pass rusher for the Las Vegas Raiders

Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby celebrates a big play
Las Vegas Raiders pass rusher Maxx Crosby celebrates after sacking Lamar Jackson | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Raiders drafted Maxx Crosby with the No. 106 overall pick in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. For all the knocks on Crosby coming into the draft, he possessed upside based on his raw talent.

The Eastern Michigan standout proved he was NFL-ready as a rookie. He made 10 starts for the Raiders, registering 47 tackles, 16 quarterback hits, 10 sacks, and four forced fumbles. He earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 11 of the 2019 season.

Crosby’s production took a slight dip in 2020, but he has turned up the heat during the 2021 season. He’s recorded 12 QB hits, nine tackles, and two sacks in three games.

The third-year defensive end leads the NFL with 21 quarterback pressures, and his 12 QB hits also lead all defenders. While his sack numbers aren’t eye-popping, Crosby is causing havoc for opposing offenses.

The young star is relentless and brings the energy, which is why he’s the Raiders’ defensive leader.

Crosby’s motor makes him such a good player

The Las Vegas Raiders’ defense is far from an immovable object. Still, players like Maxx Crosby make life extremely difficult for opposing offenses.

One thing that jumps off the page when watching the Raiders defense is Crosby’s energy. He plays with a high motor, and it fires up the rest of the defense.

He plays with his hair on fire, according to Rich Eisen. “My whole career, I’ve always been a guy who plays hard and works hard,” said Crosby.

Heading into his third NFL season, the 24-year-old edge rusher said he “had to look in the mirror.” He realized that he was capable of making plays. He’s already proven that. However, the Texas native wanted to work on sustaining production for an entire season.

“This offseason, I paid attention to all the little things … nutrition, recovery, all those things,” he said. “I have a routine that is just crazy. … I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life.”

That’s excellent news for defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. With the NFL shifting to a 17-game season, Crosby now gets to wreak more havoc.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

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