Wide receiver Crawford-Tufts quits football team

Eric Francis

The would be junior will instead focus on track and field, leaving a bit of uncertainty with an unproven Gophers receiving corps.

Devin Crawford-Tufts will no longer play football at the University of Minnesota, per a statement this afternoon from the University. Instead, the would-be junior will focus on his track career.

Statement in full below:

Devin Crawford-Tufts was a member of both the football and men’s track and field team at Minnesota during his sophomore year in 2012-13. For the upcoming 2013-14 academic year, Crawford-Tufts will participate only in track and field and will not be a member of the football team.

"Devin and I have met multiple times over the past couple of months, and he has decided to focus on track and field for the upcoming season," said Minnesota coach Jerry Kill. "Devin is a fine young man. We wish him well and will be rooting for him."

Crawford-Tufts made 24 catches for 345 yards in 21 career games for the Gophers. His lone touchdown reception came against Texas Tech in the Meineke Car Care Bowl last season. Crawford-Tufts, who was a Minnesota state champion in the 100 and 200 meters in high school, joined the track and field team in February 2013. He went on to finish fourth at the Big Ten Championships in 60 meters.

Crawford-Tufts played in 12 games last year, starting eight and reeled in 16 catches for 189 yards. At first glance, those stats don't seem like the Gophers will be missing much, but he was expected to compete for a starting job, if not win one outright going into what would have been his junior year.

Looking at the wide receivers on scholarship, the receiver position is incredibly unproven and thin. (Here are the leading receivers from last year; 20 total catches would have qualified for most catches on 2012's squad.)

Redshirt freshman Jamel Harbison should be expected to start at receiver at this point -- even though he is a year removed from tearing his ACL. The loss of Crawford-Tufts makes the return of Andre McDonald even more important, as McDonald steps into a larger role, along with Derrick Engel and Isaac Fruechte, who also return.

While Crawford-Tufts's first two years were underwhelming, he played a position of need, doing so as an upperclassman this year. He obviously had decent speed, but for whatever reason, that didn't necessarily translate into on-field production in 2012. While Harbison, Engel and McDonald should see an uptick in playing time due to the loss of Crawford-Tufts, it will also be interesting to see if Jerry Kill and Matt Limegrover decide to have incoming freshman quarterback Donovahn Jones mix in at receiver at all. Jones broke off a commitment with Missouri for a chance to play quarterback at the U of M, but if it's clear he isn't going to take snaps away from Philip Nelson, Kill and Co. might see a need to put the speedy freshman on the field.

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