Friday night at Stafford Field in Columbus, a summer’s worth of work will culminate in the collision of Harry Crider’s two greatest passions.
Crider, a senior center at Columbus East and Indiana’s newest commitment in the 2017 class, will begin his final high school football season. And he’ll stage his senior project – a fundraising and awareness event for the Riley Children’s Foundation – inspired by years spent working with and fighting alongside Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
“At my high school, we’re required to do a senior project to graduate. I definitely wanted to do something meaningful, something I was passionate about,” Crider told IndyStar. “I worked with my people at Riley, and we came up with this idea.”
When he was 10 years old, Crider spent three nights at Riley after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
Crider learned to manage his condition, becoming a multisport athlete at East. He played baseball, basketball and football, beginning at wide receiver and tight end.
Seeking to fill holes left by graduation, the Olympians coaching staff moved Crider to center as a sophomore, and he never looked back.
“He is a great athlete for that position,” said East coach Bob Gaddis. “He used to be a skill player, basketball player, baseball player. He’s a big kid — big, but an athletic-looking guy.”
Crider now measures 6-4, and between 250 and 260 pounds. He originally committed to Virginia, but when IU got serious over the summer, he listened.
Offensive line coach Greg Frey ran point on his recruitment, seeing Crider as an ideal fit. With two IU alums for siblings and a family rooted in the area, Crider didn’t hesitate to flip when offered, switching from Virginia to the Hoosiers on Monday.
He could move around, but with Jake Reed graduating last year and Wes Rogers finishing his career this fall, depth at center looks likely to keep Crider in the middle of the line. The 247sports.com composite rates him the No. 19 center in his class.
“He’s a true center,” said Steve Wiltfong, recruiting insider at 247sports. “A lot of times you’re converting a guy at that position. Crider already has a feel for the spot.”
When he arrives on campus, he might also become Indiana football’s first former “Riley Champion,” a role that has allowed him to work on Riley’s behalf throughout 2016.
“He has served as an ambassador for Riley Children’s Foundation and shared his story at Riley Foundation events,” said Kate Burnett, senior communications officer at Riley Children’s Foundation. “It’s been really wonderful to have Harry as an advocate.”
Cue Friday night’s event, which Crider spent the summer planning.
Nurses from Riley will be on hand to spread awareness about diabetes and conduct free blood pressure checks. East cheerleaders will lead a “Riley miracle minute” to gather donations. Burnett said there will even be buttons for sale featuring pictures of Crider, “kind of like a football button.”
“This is an effort,” she said, “that’s been driven by Harry.”
When he committed this week, Crider added more in-state flavor to a class that now counts six players from Indiana among 14 commitments.
His story, however — from a diabetes diagnosis to a college commitment to becoming a Riley Champion — remains his own.
“He’s an impeccable character guy. He’s a great leader not just in our football program, but in our school and our community,” Gaddis said. “He’s a great example for others that get diagnosed of how, if you take care of yourself, you can do anything.”
Follow IndyStar reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.