Justin Crawford might see time at RB for WVU football


Justin Crawford came to the WVU football team with the intention to play right away.

The transfer from Northwest Mississippi Community College likely knew that he would be behind Rushel Shell as the Mountaineers’ feature back in a developing offense, but with this year’s team a wealth of opportunity abounds.

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Shell, a senior, complemented Wendell Smallwood in the backfield last season. Smallwood is now with the Philadelphia Eagles, so this is truly Shell’s time to shine. There are only five other running backs on the team and Shell is the only senior.

At a position littered with underclassmen, RB coach Ja’Juan Seider needs another playmaker to step up right away. That could be Crawford, who is ready for the opportunity.

Crawford was one of the first recruits catered to by new offensive coordinator Joe Wickline. It looks like he scored a solid prospect as Crawford was part of the Rivals Top 100 and the NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year. In two years, he rushed for more than 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. 247sports.com called him the No. 3 JuCo RB in the country. In high school, he was a state long jump champion.

He is coming off a successful campaign in his previous stop at Northwest Mississippi because Crawford led the team to a national championship. He has the speed and power to compete in Division I and he should receive a lot of the handoffs as Wickline and WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen tinker with the offense heading into the 2016 season.

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A native of Columbus, Ga., Crawford played two season of high school football in the backyard of the Florida Gators in Gainesville. He finished his prep career in the state of Georgia before making the decision to attend community college in Mississippi to focus on getting better in football, and with his academic career.

Coming out of high school, Crawford had scholarship offers from Arkansas, Georgia, Louisville, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Florida, so it’s apparent that he has the makeup to star at the highest level of college football.

Crawford stands at 6-foot and weighs 200 pounds and can be versatile all over the football field. He is obviously a mainstay at running back, now, but he has also played quarterback, receiver, safety and punter in previous years. Having a true football guy like that bodes well for the entire program.

Crawford is one of seven junior college transfers who will be entering their first year of play at West Virginia. There are a total of 19 transfers, from junior college or otherwise, on the current WVU football roster. Building a team this way is positive in the fact that these players are seasoned and experienced and ready to get another chance at playing competitive football.