MORGANTOWN, W.Va.-Justin Crawford had a star-studded junior season for the Mountaineers. He rushed for 1,184 yards and four touchdowns last season, earning Big 12 Newcomer of the Year accolades.
The 6-foot, 202-pounder finished the season with five 100-plus yard rushing performances, two for 200 or more yards and one for more than 300 yards.
However, the powerful running back knows there is room for improvement this season.
“Just protecting the ball to the best of my ability, finishing runs and pass protection,” Crawford said.
If he hopes to make it in the NFL, he knows these are musts to get better at.
“To play at the next level, you have to be able to pass block,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest things that coaches look at. They know you can run the ball, but they also want to know if you can pass block and protect the quarterback. They have a number one pick quarterback and if you miss your assignment and get the quarterback hurt, then you’re liable to get fined most likely.”
After missing last season due to a knee injury, Dravon Askew-Henry is back and ready to play. The redshirt junior safety is back on the field and rearing to go. He didn’t miss any reps.
“They asked me how you feeling and things but I’m alright. I am ready,” Askew-Henry said.
Unless his coaches take him out, he plans on being on the field at all times. The Aliquippa, Pa. native is excited for contact drills.
“I just can’t wait to hit somebody,” Askew-Henry added.
Communication is key
Lack of communication can be costly. For WVU’s defensive line, they are striving to develop better communication skills during camp.
“We’re getting to the point where we are learning the defense and everybody’s understanding what they have to do but not necessarily communicating with the guy next to them so everybody’s on the same page,” redshirt senior linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton said. “That’s the main thing. That’s what separates being great from good.”
The Mountaineers’ offensive line has several new faces and a lot of big shoes to fill. However, things are falling into place for the line.
“We are all pleasantly surprised with Yodny’s (Cajuste), mine, Grant’s (Lingafelter), Matt Jones and Colton’s (McKivitz) progress,” senior guard Kyle Bosch said. “Coming in with a new o-line coach, it is one of those things where I’m the fifth-year and maybe it’s like old dogs can’t learn new tricks, but we all are starting to buy in and really understand the offense and what coach (Joe) Wickline’s vision is. We are moving in the right direction. It is pleasantly surprising on that front.”
On the mend
Offensive linemen Yodny Cajuste suffered a knee injury in the season-opener and was sidelined the rest of the year. Now, the redshirt junior is back and ready to go.
The long road back has been more mentally draining than physically but Cajuste is moving past that.
“I’m just trying to put the injury behind me,” he said. “I am out there now and I’m good.”