Johnny McCrary came to Vanderbilt as one of the highest-rated recruits in program history. He left after two seasons as the team’s primary starting quarterback — but he never stopped being a Commodore.
McCrary graduated from the university in three years, then left campus thanks in part to a combination of personal issues — his father, Greg McCrary, passed away in 2015 -- and a team that had moved on to rising young passer. He spent the next two years at Clark Atlanta University, a Division II program closer to his home town of Decatur, sharpening the dreams born as a high school All-American and four-star recruit.
Though his tenure at Clark Atlanta had its ups and downs — the Panthers were just 9-11 in his two seasons as their quarterback — McCrary showed enough for an invite to the HBCU Spirit of America Bowl. That exhibition is a pro showcase for players from historically black colleges and universities to prove they belong at the next level. It’s a tremendous opportunity, but it comes at a cost. Players have to pony up $650 to register for the event.
McCrary, a hard-working graduate student, is as broke as any of us were toward the end of college, so he turned to the internet for help. Vanderbilt fans came out in droves.
The former Commodore’s GoFundMe page asked for the $650 to plead his case to scouts in Virginia. His supporters more than doubled that in two days — many of whom were happy to help out a student-athlete with black and gold roots.
His page is currently littered with notes of support from Vanderbilt fans, many of whom have donated to help him reach his goal. At the time of publication, he’d pulled in $1,550 in pledges — $900 more than his stated goal.
The HBCU Spirit of America Bowl may not be the launchpad to pro success for McCrary, but Vandy fans were happy to help a player who represented the best parts of the university both on the field and off. The success of his fundraiser is proof the Commodores have a caring fanbase, even if it doesn’t always show at Dudley Field. More importantly it proves one key fact about the program:
When you’re Vanderbilt, you’re Vanderbilt for life.