Crawford Named To First Team; Grier Chosen As Preseason Newcomer of The Year
By Matt Keller
West Virginia’s Justin Crawford was selected as a first-team All-Big 12 preseason pick, while quarterback Will Grier was named Preseason Newcomer of the Year as chosen by the media.
Crawford was one of two first-team running backs, along with Oklahoma State’s Justice Hill. The senior was the 2016 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and All-Big 12 Conference performer after leading the league in rushing with 1,184 yards and four touchdowns. He rushed for a career-best 331 yards against Oklahoma, and had a long run of 63 yards versus Baylor while amassing 201 yards in that game.
Crawford’s burst, field vision and versatility out of the backfield made him an invaluable weapon in a Mountaineer offense that figures to use him in an increasingly expanded role this fall under new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital.
Grier, who transferred to West Virginia from Florida and sat out in 2016 to fulfill NCAA residency requirements, joins Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (Offensive POY) and Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong (Defensive POY) in earning preseason honors.
As a redshirt freshman at Florida in 2015, Grier played in six games, started five and led the Gators to a 6-0 record and a Top 10 ranking. He completed 106-of-161 passes for 1,204 yards and 10 touchdowns while throwing for a season-high 283 yards and two touchdowns against Tennessee. He finished with 20 or more completions in three games and threw multiple TD passes in four outings.
The two were West Virginia’s only selections. In all, the honorees include 14 seniors, 12 juniors and three sophomores. Only three players were unanimous selections at their position in Armstrong, Oklahoma offensive lineman Orlando Brown and OSU receiver James Washington. Fourteen were named to the 2016 All-Big 12 First Team, while eight were on the second team.
The Big 12 media preseason poll will be released on Thursday, followed by the annual Big 12 Football Media Days to be conducted in Frisco, Texas on July 17-18. Both days will be televised live from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Eastern on FS2 and other Fox Sports affiliates.
A list of the complete Big 12 first and second teams and the preseason Players of the Year can be found here.