• 63°

Crawford named nation’s top junior college offensive player

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The accolades continued to pile up for Justin Crawford on Thursday as the Northwest Mississippi Community College running back was named the 2015 Spalding NJCAA Football Offensive Player of the Year.

“This is a huge honor for me,” Crawford said. “I’m really glad to see that all of the hard work has paid off. My teammates deserve a lot of credit for this award and I share it with them. I’m especially thankful for my coaches, offensive line and my quarterback for believing in me and putting me in this position to succeed. Northwest is a first-class institution and I can’t thank the people here enough.”

At or near the top of the NJCAA in numerous offensive categories, Crawford’s dominance propelled Northwest Mississippi to its first national championship since 1992. Carrying the load with a nation-leading 268 carries, the sophomore led the country with 1,610 yards rushing and ranked fifth with 16 touchdowns on the ground. Crawford surpassed the 100-yard mark in 10 of the Rangers’ 12 games this season.

Proving to be a valuable asset out of the backfield for Rangers freshman quarterback Gardner Minshew, Crawford hauled in 29 receptions for 394 yards and six touchdowns. The Columbus, Georgia, native topped the nation with 2,022 all-purpose yards, while ranking second in total touchdowns with 22 on the year.

Facing off against No. 2 Rochester (Minn.) in the NJCAA Football Championship Game, Crawford showcased a phenomenal performance that earned him offensive MVP honors. Setting the tone with a 58-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage, Crawford led the top-ranked Rangers to a 66-13 victory. He finished the game with 15 carries for a game-high 144 yards and two touchdowns.

“We handled our business on and off the field this season, helping us reach our ultimate goal,” Crawford said.