PULLMAN – River Cracraft was dominant in Washington State’s 56-21 win over California, making nine catches for 87 yards and three touchdowns. He sustained a leg injury on his final catch in the third quarter, and sources have told The Spokesman-Review that Cracraft tore the ACL in his left knee, ending the career of one of WSU’s most prolific receivers.
The receiver walked off the field and to the locker room under his own power after a brief examination by the WSU medical staff. On his way to the locker room, he turned around before entering the tunnel and took a long look at the Martin Stadium crowd.
Injuries robbed Cracraft of six games out of his sophomore and junior seasons. But he resumed his role as one of WSU’s key players on offense as a senior making 73 receptions, 701 yards and five touchdowns.
“He’s someone who has to be reckoned with on the field,” Marks said after Saturday’s game, before news of the severity of Cracraft’s injury became public. “He makes the offense work better because he can just occupy the middle of the field and if they’re going to cover the outside, he dominates and vice versa when they try to start covering him up I’m able to do my job a lot easier. So it’s kind of a marriage between us.”
And the Cracraft family has become an integral part of the WSU football community during his four years on the team. His mother Tracy has a large social media following that she uses to promote the Cougars and organize events around the team. She also spoke at last week’s board of regents meeting on behalf of suspended football player Robert Barber.
River Cracraft’s brother Skyler was a walk-on defensive back during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. He now covers the team as a reporter for Cougfan.com.
Many WSU luminaries took to social media to share their support for the injured player after the news broke on Sunday.
Former NFL star Drew Bledsoe tweeted “Congrats to (River Cracraft) on an amazing career for the #WSUCougars. Lots more football in your future man!!”
Cracraft finishes with 218 career receptions, second in WSU history to teammate Gabe Marks, who is the Pac-12’s all-time leader. The senior inside receiver has been a starter ever since he arrived at WSU as a freshman in 2013 out of Santa Margarita High in Santa Margarita, California and made 36 starts over four sesaons.
He ends his career with 2,701 receiving yards and ranks No. 18 in Pac-12 history in total receptions, having passed Juron Criner, James Newson and Dwayne Jarrett on Saturday night. His 20 touchdowns rank No. 6 in WSU history as he passed Jared Karstetter and Isiah Myers on Saturday.
Cracraft’s career should be remember for his penchant for making the humble yet important plays to keep drives alive on third down, and for the occasional prime time grabs in the biggest moments.
It was Cracraft who scored the game-winning touchdown at Rutgers last year to prevent the Cougars from opening the season with an 0-2 record, and the slot receiver had multiple highlight reel catches this year, including an athletic toe-tapper at Stanford and then a one-handed corral of a pass over his head against UCLA.
He started as a true freshman and broke out with six catches for 87 yards in his second game, against Southern Utah. He ended his freshman season with what was then the best game of his career, catching nine passes for 125 yards and a touchdown against Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl.
Marks says that Cracraft is the best inside receiver Mike Leach has coached, a list that includes Wes Welker and Danny Amendola. Leach concedes that Cracraft might be one of the fastest.
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