The Giants did plenty of homework on Andrew Thomas before using the fourth overall pick in the draft to select the offensive tackle. But that’s nothing compared to what Tae Crowder knows about him.
Crowder, the final pick in the draft, spent the last three years as Thomas' teammate at Georgia.
“Andrew Thomas is a great player, a great person,” the new Giants linebacker said on Wednesday. “He takes his work serious, he’s just a great kid. Football and off-the-field stuff is really important to him, and I respect him for that. I loved each day at practice in college just going to work with him, helping him lead the team and stuff like that. I highly respect my teammate Andrew Thomas."
As a linebacker, Crowder would have to go up against Thomas in practices.
“He was pretty good,” Crowder said.
But Crowder did not arrive in Athens, Georgia, as a linebacker. He was recruited as a running back out of high school. When he got to college, though, he was buried on the depth chart behind players such as Sony Michel and Nick Chubb.
“I was just on scout team at practice, just working hard, and my coach ended up noticing it just going against the number one defense, making plays,” he said. “He saw that I was an athlete and that I should be on the field. He reached out to me, we had a meeting, and he was like he sees me as a linebacker and stuff like that, as a defensive player. We just had a one-day tryout, and at that tryout I ended up doing pretty good and I stayed there from then on.”
Crowder became a captain for a Georgia defense that finished 2019 ranked first in the nation in scoring (12.6 points per game), rushing yards allowed (74.6 per game) and total rushing touchdowns allowed (two). The Bulldogs ranked third in the nation in total defense, allowing 257.7 yards per game.
Thomas and Crowder join a Giants team that is brimming with Bulldogs. They already had Lorenzo Carter and DeAndre Baker as draft picks from the two previous years on the roster.
“It’s just a dream come true,” Crowder said of the reunion. “We know how each other works. It will be fun catching up, going to work with them and being on the field with each other once again.”
The switch to linebacker certainly worked out for Crowder . . . except when it comes to Thomas and having to take him on in practices. That, he said, is enough to make him yearn for his ball-carrying days.
“I think,'' he said, "I would rather run behind him.”