It has become more and more common for departing seniors, and underclassmen for that matter, to forego their schools bowl games to prepare for the NFL draft.
It was easy to assume that is exactly what WVU’s Justin Crawford did when the University announced Thursday evening that the senior running back would not participate in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on December 26th.
But while the NFL is Crawford’s ultimate goal, that is simply not the reason he chose to forego his final collegiate game, even against the wishes of most.
Crawford’s commitment to family has been well documented during his career at WVU. The story of Crawford working the night shift at Taco Bell to support his wife and young children instantly made Justin a fan favorite among Mountaineer Nation. That job was short lived after then WVU running backs coach JaJuan Seider came in and saw the reigning JUCO Offensive Player of the Year making tacos.
Speaking of Seider, he has continued to be a mentor for Crawford, even from afar.
As of Wednesday night Crawford was still unsure about whether he was going to participate in the bowl game. He had all but made up his mind until he got a phone call from the coach that brought him to WVU.
Coach Seider explained that missing this game could potentially hurt his future. He explained that NFL teams sends scouts to every bowl game and that missing that game could have a negative impact on the NFL hopeful.
Those words stuck with Crawford, supporting his family has always been his ultimate goal. Would missing that last game hurt his stock in the NFL?
Seider was not the only coach trying to get Crawford to stay though. Coach Holgorsen called him numerous times over the last few days asking him to stick it out just one more game.
But ultimately family won. Justin has a grandmother he is very close with, someone he does not get to see very often due to him being so far away.
Recently his grandmother called to inform him that she was not doing well and went as far as to say she wasn’t sure she’d see another birthday.
For Crawford, the desire to be with her before it was too late was just too much. He met with Coach Holgorsen on Thursday afternoon and at that time decided it was in his family’s best interest to go home as soon as possible.
Crawford returned from his meeting with Holgorsen and sent this message to BGS for Mountaineer Nation to read,
“I met a lot of great people here and thank Mountaineer Nation for the support. Being a family man this decision is what I felt was best for us all.”
If there is one thing for sure, no one can question where Justin’s true priorities lie, family.