Two Is The Magic Mizzou Number
The story behind Pine Bluff Coach Micheal Williams and his Mizzou connections
That's the number Pine Bluff Zebras wide receiver Courtney Crutchfield will wear at the University of Missouri when he hits the turf for the Tigers.
It's also the number he wore during his high school football career. (On the basketball court –yesp, he plays basketball, too – Crutchfield wears 5.)
But it's more than a number.
A bond exists with the number two, and its ties to Zebras head football Coach Micheal Williams and Missouri.
Williams, a 2002 graduate of Pine Bluff High School, played football for the Zebras where he was number two.
That number has always held a special meaning for him.
When Williams returned to Pine Bluff in the summer of 2022 to take the Zebras coaching job, he heard about an incoming junior wearing the number two.
Who was he? Courtney Crutchfield who already had big buzz building around him as a possible D1 recruit.
“I did some research before taking the job and some research on the program,” Williams said. “This one kid stood out. Courtney Crutchfield. I met him and I said, ‘Man, you can’t be sorry if you are wearing number two. That was my number. Courtney said, ‘I’m better than you.’ I said, ‘Nah, you got to do more work.’”
Williams admits with a laugh that Crutchfield eventually got better but it took work.
Crutchfield, though, isnt the first number 2 to land at Mizzou who Williams coached.
Williams also coached the Tigers’ current number two – cornerback Ennis Rakestraw, Jr., who is leaving Mizzou and passing down his number to Crutchfield.
Before returning to Pine Bluff, Williams was on staff in Texas at Wylie East High and Duncanville, a team rich with football history.
At Duncanville, Williams coached Rakestraw, who will more likely than not be a top NFL draft pick. Rakestraw though won't play in Friday night's Cotton Bowl when Missouri takes on Ohio State because of an injury.
Williams, the OG two, has ignited a recruiting pipeline straight to Missouri that began when he was in Texas and now continues in Pine Bluff. Along with Crutchfield, senior Zebra Austyn Dendy is also headed to Mizzou. Read more about Dendy below.
Jordon Harris, who graduated from Pine Bluff High School in 2023 and played football and basketball, is also a Tiger football player. Read more about Harris below.
But don't think the Mizzou magic happened overnight with a recruiting spell.
Williams has been networking for years, starting in 2012. Il
In 2014 he oversaw recruiting at W.T. White High School in Dallas. The knowledge Williams gained and the connections he made have served the Zebras well. So has his social media savviness.
Williams created a social media hashtag #RecruitTheZs for recruiters to discover Zebra players easier. He also upped the the team's online presence. But Williams knew that Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Hudl were only one essential element to recruiting.
Winning on the field and racking up stats were obvious pieces of the recruiting puzzle, too. This year, the Zebras were the 5A Central Conference champions and made it to the state championship semifinals.
Williams knows the most important part of helping a student-athlete land a scholarship at a university like Mizzou is spreading the word about players to coaches. That takes personal connections.
While that's always been the case, it's even more so now as high school players compete for spots with college athletes, including those at junior colleges. Thats because the transfer portal exists and NIL dollars entices.
“It's not important just to have D1 connections, it's important to have all college connections from D2, D3, NAIA,” Williams said. “It helps give your athletes a better chance to get recruited. In this digital world we live in, it's impossible for a coach to watch everyone so by having that direct connection you can sit your athlete video in front of more eyes.”
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