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River Cracraft: Always coming in clutch

Redshirt+senior+River+Cracraft+runs+off+the+field+in+a+game+against+the+University+of+Arizona+on+Nov.+12.
Redshirt senior River Cracraft runs off the field in a game against the University of Arizona on Nov. 12.

Redshirt senior River Cracraft runs off the field in a game against the University of Arizona on Nov. 12.

Redshirt senior River Cracraft runs off the field in a game against the University of Arizona on Nov. 12.

NICK THOMAS | Evergreen reporter

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WSU wide receiver River Cracraft has made a mark on the WSU football program that is irreplaceable; 218 catches, 2710 yards, and 20 touchdowns in his four-year career.

In 2013, a six-foot, 198-pound freshman wide receiver played at Martin Stadium for the first time. Ever since, Cracraft has been a go-to for WSU quarterbacks with his instinctive go-get-it catching ability.

Over four seasons, Cracraft averaged more than 12 yards per reception and slowly made his way through the WSU record books. Cracraft became a part of the first active wide receiver duo, along with senior Gabe Marks, to simultaneously have 200 or more catches.

Unfortunately for the Cougars and their fans, Cracraft’s career was cut short by an ACL tear he suffered against California.

“All the attention has come because people realize they don’t get to watch ‘the Cracraft show’ anymore and it makes them sad because he was so good,” Marks said.

Cracraft was known for his ability to find openings on third down. Fans rave about his ‘clutch’ playmaking ability and constant involvement in third down conversions.

This season, Cracraft was averaging 13.2 yards per reception on third down and 18.5 yards per reception if it was greater than third and 10. Over the course of his four-year career, Cracraft has never averaged fewer than 11 yards per reception on third down.

Furthermore, in three out of four years in his career, Cracraft averaged more than 10 yards per catch in the fourth quarter of games. During his time playing for WSU, Cracraft proved himself as a star under pressure.

Cracraft’s teammates say one of the qualities that makes him great is his work ethic.

Marks recounted situations over the summer in which, even after multiple hours of work with redshirt junior quarterback Luke Falk, he and Cracraft would stay for another hour or more working on various aspects of playing receiver. Marks added that even after that extra work he would need to coerce Cracraft to call it a day.

“I’ve always been an advocate of trying to get him some other hobbies,” Marks said. “If it was up to him, he’d be in the (football complex) all day.”

Cracraft’s hard work has seemingly paid off in stats, draft stock and most notably, wins.

In Cracraft’s freshman season, the Cougars went (6-7), finished fifth in the Pac-12 North and lost to Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl. So far in Cracraft’s senior season, the Cougars are (8-2), undefeated in conference play, and control their own destiny in the conference. Fans and media alike would be remiss not to credit Cracraft in part for helping return the program to success.

Cracraft’s career at WSU captivated Cougar fans for the last four years. Between dazzling sideline catches and incredible third down conversions “the Cracraft show” was always must see T.V.

Both Marks and Head Coach Mike Leach have driven home the point that Cracraft is fine, and that the team will continue on. Marks in particular joked about the somber nature of many questions regarding Cracraft.

The demeanor of the fans however, has slightly changed knowing that one of the best receivers to play for Washington State had his career cut short in the midst of a blowout. There is an undertone of disappointment that a senior like Cracraft could not finish a season like this on the field.

In the end, his sideline toe-tap against Oregon State may not be immortal, and his contorted catch against Stanford may slip away, but the success that Cracraft has had while wearing crimson and gray will not be forgotten.

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River Cracraft: Always coming in clutch