QB Grier returning to West Virginia; Crawford skipping bowl game

Dec 15, 2017 - 5:36 AM West Virginia's football team batted .500 off the field Thursday, learning that one key player will return while another is leaving early.

Quarterback Will Grier announced Thursday that he will return for his senior season and bypass the 2018 NFL draft.

However, running back Justin Crawford will not play for the Mountaineers against Utah in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl, opting instead to focus on preparing for the draft, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said.

Grier passed for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns against 12 interceptions for the Mountaineers this season.

"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," Grier said in a statement. "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."

Grier missed the regular-season finale against Oklahoma due to a hand injury. He hasn't yet been medically cleared for the Heart of Dallas Bowl contest against Utah on Dec. 26.

Grier's return qualified as a good development for Holgorsen.

"Will's decision to return next year certainly makes it a great day for West Virginia football," Holgorsen said in a statement.

"He is a great leader for our program. His teammates and the coaching staff are certainly looking forward to his return, and this is positive news for all involved."

Grier began his college career at Florida but departed after receiving a one-year suspension for use of performance-enhancing substances.

Crawford finished third in the Big 12 Conference with 1,061 yards rushing and scored seven touchdowns. He had seven 100-yard games en route to becoming the first West Virginia player to notch back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons since Noel Devine (2008-09).

During his junior season, Crawford rushed for 1,184 yards and earned Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year honors. He burned Oklahoma for a career-high 331 yards and ran for 209 against Baylor.

"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."

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