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Michael Crabtree Does Jim Harbaugh Impersonation at Annual Youth Football Camp

Posted Jun 23, 2014

The San Francisco 49ers star receiver hosted hundreds of young campers and friends from around the NFL at his second annual youth football camp in Dallas, Texas.

DALLAS – Michael Crabtree was already thinking about version three of his youth football camp.

Shortly after the San Francisco 49ers wideout wrapped up his second camp at Southern Mehodist University’s Gerald Ford Stadium, Crabtree wondered if he should have called an audible on his camp wardrobe.

“I should’ve worn my khakis,” Crabtree said after leading quarterback and wide receiver drills for 400 football players at his camp. “That would’ve been real creative.”

Khaki pants aside, Crabtree looked very much like his head coach. The play-making 49ers receiver was barking out “Compete!” at every turn. Crabtree even got into a squat to hand-off footballs to quarterbacks – a trademark of Harbaugh’s hands-on coaching style.

“The kids are having a blast,” said Crabtree, who coached up members of the David W. Carter High School football team less than 24 hours after speaking at his alma mater and taking 60 kids and coaches out to lunch.

Crabtree’s camp, which featured a smoke-machined professional gameday introduction for its NFL guests, was a day fit for the football-loving receiver who wanted to give back to his hometown.

What did Crabtree like most about his biggest camp to date?

“A lot of competition, a lot of dancing, a lot of dancing competitions,” Crabtree said. “There’s route competitions. There’s a lot of competitions out here, period. So it’s fun. It’s always nice to come back and give back.”

The beneficiary of Crabtree’s camp – the Crab5 Foundation – raised significant money at a fundraising banquet to help fund scholarships for the YMCA’s in Dallas Metropolitan area. Crabtree said his goal for the foundation is to help inspire youngsters in the Dallas community to seek opportunities in a number of programs.  Not just in sports – Crabtree, who has his own “LODB” (Last of a Dying Breed) clothing line, wants the youth of his hometown to focus on school work and seek out different occupations like education, athletics, fashion, and music to name a few.

Crabtree’s 2014 camp was completely free for the kids. It also featured complimentary lunch, Jordan Brand T-shirts and, best of all, hours of practice time with a plethora of NFL talent.

In fact, Crabtree was joined by teammates new and old.

Several current 49ers made the trek to Dallas to serve as instructors – the group included the franchise’s all-time leading rusher Frank Gore, second-year wide receiver Quinton Patton and third-year defensive tackle Tony Jerod-Eddie.

As for NFL support from other teams, Crabtree welcomed the likes of Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller as well as former 49ers teammates tight end Delanie Walker of the Tennessee Titans and wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. of the Arizona Cardinals.

Helping Crabtree’s cause was an easy choice for members of the NFL community, especially with those with Dallas ties like Miller.

“It’s a small-knit group that actually made it to the NFL,” the Broncos sack specialist said. “I went to high school down the street from him and he’s a legend out here.

“Michael Crabtree is the real deal in Texas.”

Miller joined Jerod-Eddie as the defensive line coaches. Both were teammates at DeSoto High School and again at Texas A&M. The two accomplished defenders shared their top pass-rushing maneuvers with a group of high school athletes.

Meanwhile, Gore and other offensive players shared footwork tips with young running backs and wide receivers.

Gore said he appreciated the opportunity to impart wisdom. It also brought him back to his own childhood.

“I just think back to when I was a kid and I used to see NFL guys come to my neighborhood, how excited I used to be,” Gore, a native of Coral Gables, Fla. said. “I want to see the kids happy. I want to see the kids do something I love to do which is play football and I’m enjoying it.”

When Crabtree approached his teammate of five seasons about attending the camp, Gore didn’t hesitate one bit about flying into Dallas to support Crabtree’s foundation.

“Crabtree, I look at him like a little brother,” Gore said. “I’ve seen him grow as a player and as a person. I’m here to support him. I respect his game and I love being here for the kids, too.”

In turn, the kids were sprinting around the field as if an NFL scouting department was in the stands evaluating their talents.

Energy was high throughout the day, as the host's dad noticed.

“The kids are all excited because a lot of them are at their first camp,” Michael Crabtree Sr. said. “You can just see the energy here. A lot of these kids look up to Mike. They’ve never been close to an NFL player, so this is making all of their days.”

Crabtree’s father was one of many family members who were moved by the efforts of the 49ers wide receiver.

The NFL community also made sure to bring their best efforts to match the vigor of the campers.

“Texas football is different from any other state,” Miller, a Dallas native said. “It all starts here. It all starts at a young age. You develop those characteristics. You develop the work ethic at a young age. You hone those abilities here at a young age and you transfer them to college.

“In Texas, we have a lot of top talent out here. Coming out here to work with the guys, especially when they’re young, it’s a blessing. To be able to work with guys like Crab and give back to the community, I’m truly grateful to come back and do this.”

Crabtree, too, felt good about the camp accomplishing its goals.

“I’ve got to set the standards high and let (the kids) know what I expect out of them,” he said. “I love this. When I was little, I always thought about doing this. I always said if I ever get a chance, I’m going to make it happen.

“This was our first big camp. Next year, it’s going to be even bigger… we’re never going to be old-fashioned. We’re going to have fun.”

He might even have to bring out the Harbaugh signature attire to prove it.


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