FRISCO, Texas — Justin Crawford’s first season at West Virginia went quite well, but the Columbus native seeks a truly grand finale to his collegiate career in 2017.
“The sky’s the limit,” Crawford, a senior running back and Hardaway High School product, said Tuesday during day two of 2017 Big 12 Conference Football Media Days in suburban Dallas. “All I’ve got to do is just remain healthy and take care of my body. Anything’s possible.”
Last season, Crawford led the Big 12 by averaging 7.3 yards per carry — sixth-best in the nation — and was third in the conference with 1,184 rushing yards for the 10-3 Mountaineers, leading several media outlets to name him 2016 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.
However, he still seeks improvement in several areas heading into his senior season, like pass protection and picking up his assignments. Crawford would also like to be more durable as a senior. He played every game in 2016, but was slowed by injury late last season, something he’d care to avoid this fall. “(I’m) just giving it my all, just putting the extra strain on my body that I need to help me get through all the games in the season. Mainly just taking care of my body with ice tubs and all that.”
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Last July, Crawford had transferred from Northwest Mississippi CC and was acclimating to coach Dana Holgorsen’s system. But judging from his impressive showing as a junior, his adjustment from JUCO to the Big 12 went swimmingly.
And when Holgorsen was asked about what sort of leadership Crawford brings to WVU, the oft-quotable coach offered a huge compliment about his star running back: “He’s a hard worker. He’s got a lot of spirit, a lot of energy, very confident,” Holgorsen said. “There isn’t a more confident kid here at any of these tables than him. He’s won a lot and had success wherever he’s been. That mentality is incredibly contagious.”
Now the elder statesman of the WVU running backs, a group Crawford feels is going to fare well in 2017, Crawford knows that as a senior, more is now expected of him from a leadership standpoint, an uptick in responsibility he embraces.
“Mainly just trying to make sure they (the younger guys) are on time and doing what they’re supposed to do,” he said. “I’m trying to set the good example. They (the coaches) get on me the most because of the position that I’m in, but I don’t say anything. I just accept it and keep working. And I’m trying to get them (the younger guys) to do the same thing.”
This year’s Big 12 Football Media Days were held at The Star in Frisco, a complex home to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, and Crawford was among the attendees who left town impressed with what he saw. “It’s nice. I’ve never experienced anything like this. Talking with y’all (the media) is something that I’m fairly new to, but I’m getting better at it. I like it,” he said.