WVU RB Crawford to skip bowl; QB Grier returning for ’18

West Virginia senior running back Justin Crawford will skip the Heart of Dallas Bowl and focus on preparing for the 2018 NFL Draft, coach Dana Holgorsen announced on Thursday.

Crawford finished third in the Big 12 with 1,061 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. He was selected second team all-Big 12 each of the past two seasons as well.

“Justin has logged a lot of miles and been a key contributor for us the past two seasons,” Holgorsen said. “He made a decision to not play in the bowl game based on what is best for him and his family. He came to West Virginia to further his education and be a featured back in the Big 12 and he accomplished his goals. As he starts his preparation for the NFL Draft, we wish him nothing but the best.”

Earlier in the day, junior quarterback Will Grier announced that he will return for his senior season.

“After much prayer and consultation with my family and coaches, I have decided to return to WVU for my senior season,” Grier said in a statement released by the school. “There is still a great deal that I want this team to accomplish and I look forward to helping lead us to success in 2018. I am completely focused and looking forward to building off the success we had this year and want to do even greater things next year. West Virginia is my home, and I couldn’t be more excited about the future here.”

Grier began his college career at Florida before transferring to West Virginia. He has thrown for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns this season and was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.

“Will’s decision to return next year certainly makes it a great day for West Virginia football,” Holgorsen said. “He is a great leader for our program, and I know our fans enjoy watching his talents on the football field. His teammates and the coaching staff are certainly looking forward to his return, and this is positive news for all involved.”

The Mountaineers (7-5) will play Utah (6-6) in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Dec. 26.

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