Prior to the start of USC’s 2020 football season, guest speakers in a Zoom meeting spoke to the team about the process of starting a business.
Micah Croom, a safety who transferred to USC from Dartmouth as a graduate senior, unmuted himself and asked a question about LLC’s and sole proprietorships.
“That was everybody’s first time hearing his voice and seeing his face,” Croom’s then-new teammate, Chase Williams said. “Everybody’s like ‘Who’s this guy?’”
For Croom, pursuing interests outside of the football field has always been a priority. He learned Japanese because of his favorite childhood anime “Dragon Ball Z”, is working on obtaining a general contractor’s license and has a budding career in music production.
“He’s a Renaissance man,” said Brett Arce, a defensive quality control analyst at USC who works closely with Croom.
Croom’s many talents are no surprise to those around him. As a USC football player with an Ivy League bachelor’s degree in political science, Croom is part of an exclusive club. He credits the achievement to himself and his father for believing in the importance of maximizing “the best of both abilities.” Along with his academic strength and his passions aside from football, Croom is, according to many, an excellent communicator who makes every conversation feel special.
“He has a way of connecting with people. If you sit down and talk to him, he can be very profound,” said Larry Croom, Micah’s father. “He can take you to a whole other level mentally.”
Larry recalls having to talk to his son “almost like an adult” in his childhood because Micah’s line of questioning was always at a high level. His speaking ability is not lost on his teammates.
“He’s very detailed and articulate,” Williams said. “He can break things down and relate to everybody, bringing people together.”
Williams described Micah as someone whose social circle extends far beyond football, remembering times where Croom would regularly tell teammates about restaurant recommendations and new connections he makes.
Micah’s focus on education didn’t waver when he was recruited out of high school. He credits the success of the Stanford-NFL pipeline, specifically Richard Sherman’s journey, for validating his belief that he could balance football and a commitment to excelling in his pursuit of education.
After decommitting from Utah and instead committing to Dartmouth his senior year of high school, Micah received mixed reviews. Some coaches and family members wanted him to go to a Power Five school, but when Micah mentioned his interest in the Ivy League to teachers and mentors, they were ecstatic.
“When I would say, ‘Dartmouth’, you would see the look on their face change,” Micah said. “It was with so much sincerity that I knew this was something different and I might want to take a second look at it.”
His time at Dartmouth and the ensuing educational success weren’t without their challenges. Micah battled through his first true injury as an athlete, unfulfilled promises and culture shock moving from Los Angeles to New Hampshire.
“Micah had to endure it on his own, all by himself,” said his mother, Tiffany Croom.
Micah’s parents said he reached a “stalemate” his freshman year at Dartmouth, finding it difficult to balance an Ivy League academic workload along with the demands of playing college football.
For Micah, the injury he suffered his sophomore year at Dartmouth took him out of the “world of being a football player” for the first time since his childhood. Micah was inspired to play football at a young age after watching his older brother, Larry Jr., play in the NFL. Micah has fond memories of watching his brother on television, calling him the “first superhero” he ever saw on screen, aside from “Dragon Ball Z”’s Goku.
Micah was athletically active year-round from his elementary years through high school, alternating between track and football. Experiencing life as a “regular student” was daunting at first, but it allowed Micah to reflect on what else was important to him. The same person who had once acted in a play, played the saxophone and won chess championships in elementary school was being rediscovered. Only this time, his passion was for producing music.
Micah said he became “enamored” with the process of music production, and quickly saw parallels between the heights he wanted to reach on and off the field. Being exposed to a new world where, as in football, there was no true ceiling on what he could accomplish made Micah even more dedicated. Williams said Croom helps teammates realize their opportunities for success off the field.
“He makes you realize that there’s more outside of football,” Williams said. “He’s going to make you feel like a normal person.”
Despite his other pursuits, Micah remains all the way locked into football. His dedication to contributing to the team’s success — in any capacity — was on full display in USC’s victory over Washington State earlier this season.
USC trailed 14-7 at halftime when Micah forced a crucial Washington State fumble on the second-half kickoff to put the Trojans in prime position to draw even, take the lead and ultimately pick up a key victory in interim Head Coach Donte Williams’ first game at the helm. The game-changing play was a long time coming for Micah. Staying true to his calm demeanor, he returned to the sidelines and told the offensive players it was their turn to score.
“He’s the same guy whether it’s in the locker room or outside the locker room, his personality never changes,” Chase said. “He’s just more serious on the field.”
Micah’s stoicism and level-headed attitude make him a valuable asset to the team outside the white lines — he regularly studies film on his own time and calls out the opposition’s plays even from the sideline. Micah’s commitment to helping USC any way he can immediately stood out to Arce, who remembers walking into the film room late at night and finding Micah watching game tape alone more than once.
USC is Micah’s fifth school since he started ninth grade, but his unconventional path has driven him to prove himself as a reliable and talented contributor, making a constant effort to connect with those around him. Micah’s hyper-focused attitude is clear to those around him. Arce called his personality “infectious.”
Tiffany always had an inkling her son would end up at USC and it happened. As Micah continues to step into new avenues and develop new interests, his friends and family wait patiently for his next big move.
Micah isn’t worried about what’s next for him. He’s open to extending his football career, moving into real estate, continuing to grow as a producer or exploring any other door his network at USC, Dartmouth and elsewhere will open for him.
“I’m always going to hold a high ceiling for myself and those around me,” Micah said. “I understand that this is a long journey for me.”