River Cracraft was a fan favorite and a huge part of the WSU offense, but his career in a Cougars uniform is likely over after he sustained an ACL injury against Cal
On the same night that Washington State’s River Cracraft matched his career-high with three touchdown receptions against Cal, he also, apparently ended his WSU football career.
As Cracraft limped off to the locker room Saturday night, he stopped right before he entered the tunnel, turned around, and took a long look at the raucous scene at Martin Stadium. Perhaps he knew this might be his final time walking off the field in his football pads.
Cracraft went down on a third down play in the third quarter, after catching a pass from Luke Falk and getting hit by two Cal defenders. Cracraft struggled to stand and had to be helped off the field by trainers. ESPN’s cameras later caught footage of WSU’s medical staff with on the sideline testing Cracraft’s left knee.
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The WSU football staff does not talk about injuries to its players, but Cougfan, Scout.com’s WSU affiliate, reported Sunday afternoon that Cracraft suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and will miss the remainder of his senior season. The Seattle Times has since confirmed the report.
The news comes as a huge blow to both Cracraft and the thriving Cougars’ offense. Cracraft will end his WSU career No. 2 behind his teammate Gabe Marks on the Cougars career receptions list, with 218. He is also sixth in program history with 20 career touchdown passes and 2,638 receiving yards.
Cracraft and Marks are the only pair of teammates in Pac-12 history to ever record 200-plus receptions in a single season.
Cracraft is currently WSU’s second-leading receiver this season. He has 701 yards on 53 receptions, with five touchdowns. His 13.2 yards-per-reception average leads all WSU receivers, and the 6-foot, 200-pound slot receiver will finish his career having played in 41 games, with 35 starts.
Cracraft came to WSU from Santa Margarita High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., and helped to recruit high school teammates Rilery Sorenson, Nick Begg and Kyle Sweet to Pullman.
Known for his soft hands and the numerous clutch third down receptions he’s made over the years, Cracraft had become a fan favorite after four memorable seasons at WSU.
He played in every game during his freshman season in 2013, earning 10 starts and finishing with 46 receptions for 614 yards, with three touchdowns. Cracraft was on the Biletnikoff Award watch list during his sophomore and junior years, but both was unable to finish both seasons due to injury.
Cracraft missed two games his sophomore year with a stress fracture, then missed three games last season due to a stress fracture in his opposite foot – though, he recovered in time to return and play in the Sun Bowl against Miami.
This year, Cracraft was off to the best start of his career and was on pace to eclipse his career-high 771 receiving yards during his sophomore season in 2014. With Cracraft lost for the season, Sweet and Robert Lewis will likely see an increased work load. Sweet stepped into Cracraft’s position after Cracraft’s injury last year and performed well enough that he’s been a regular feature in the offense ever since.
Still, the news of his injury hit the Cougars hard.
“It was a pleasure and honor to play alongside my brother, River Cracraft,” Marks tweeted Sunday afternoon. “Your competitive drive was the steel that sharpened my steel.”
WSU strength coach Jason Loscalzo also tweeted, “Warriors will always rise above it. This man is a warrior” accompanied by a photo of Cracraft.
River’s brother, Skyler, WSU great Drew Bledsoe, Noel Schulz, the wife of WSU President Kirk Schulz, and throngs of WSU fans also took to Twitter to pay homage to Cracraft on Sunday.
Some Cracraft highlights from over the years:
Here’s River Cracraft’s final TD in a WSU uniform, courtesy of the Zzu Cru: