Insights Into The Back & His Mindset As Justin Crawford Anchors Run Game
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s Justin Crawford is a running man.
He’s running away from his past and into his future, a future he wants to be better than where he was, not so much for himself, but for his wife, Kenya, Justin Jr. and Jaydense because his upbringing was not an easy one.
He is from Gainesville, Florida, and Columbus, Georgia, one of seven children raised by a single parent, Daphne, and there were no luxuries and not a whole lot of simple conveniences. It drives him every day of his life, just seeing his own two kids and knowing what he wants for them makes the tacklers who stand before him minor obstacles.
“It gives me that extra flame, that extra fire that’s burning deep inside me to see no matter what the circumstances are and I’m going give it my all every single time,” he said.
He had athletic talent but not a whole lot else.
“It was just hard growing up with a single parent raising the kids. We pretty much had to survive,” he said. “Section 8, that’s for people who are not as fortunate as others and I wasn’t able to get the things other people got.”
Section is a federal housing program for low income families. The first time he realized just how bad off he was in comparison to some others was when he was in Gainesville playing baseball.
“I had this friend, Marky Davis. He’s in college now. I’d go to his house on weekends and he had everything … two parents, a big house, got whatever he wanted any time. It was like hard, but my Mom did the best she could.”
It’s hard to deal with seeing others who have everything when you have nothing.
“It kind of like affected me, but I didn’t let it get to me because I knew in my own head I’d be able to do what I want to do,” he said. “Around early middle school. I told my mama I was going to make it. She believed me but you have to keep speaking it into existence.”
His mother tried to keep him going down the right path.
“I listened to her most of the time, but sometimes I didn’t,” he admits.
The result was he wound up in junior college, which isn’t the perfect route to where he wanted to go.
“It was a minor setback for a major comeback,” he said. “I didn’t look at it not different than going to a major college out of high school. It really wasn’t any different. It gave me more time to mature and develop.”
He made the most of it at Northwest Mississippi Community College and West Virginia came calling, giving him the break he needed. By this time he had the wife and two children, a difficult situation for someone with a lot of money and going to school, but he’s making it all jive while chasing the dream.
He rushed for 1,147 yards last season, which made him the leading returning rusher in the Big 12 this year, and he has been right on the mark through the first three games, going over 100 yards against on Saturday in the 59-16 win over Delaware State, scoring three of the touchdowns.
“This is the only way I’m going to be able to feed my kids in the future and have the things I didn’t have when I was a young teenager or a kid,” he said.
It isn’t easy, never has been for him.
“I start my day off in there, but after that I have to go to class and by the time I get home it’s night time. They still have a little energy, but by the time I get there they are ready to wind down and go to sleep,” he said.
And his wife often needs some help with the kids.
“We get a lot of support up here, like friends who come to the game. Like Kennedy McKoy, his mom is real close with her, she sees the kids and gives her a break. She always has help when she comes to the game. Everyone loves Jaydense and Justin,” he said.