Missouri running back Crockett to forgo senior season, enter NFL Draft

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Missouri running back Damarea Crockett will not be wearing a Tigers jersey this fall.

The junior from Magnolia, Arkansas, announced in a tweet Monday that he has declared for the 2019 NFL Draft.

Crockett gave thanks in his message to former offensive coordinator and current Central Florida coach Josh Heupel, head coach Barry Odom and running backs coach Cornell Ford, saying that the Missouri program “molded (him) into a man and has prepared (him) for the journey ahead.”

He also thanked his teammates, saying that the relationships he’s made will last a lifetime.

Crockett joins teammates Drew Lock, Terry Beckner Jr., Emmanuel Hall, Paul Adams and Kendall Blanton as the Missouri hopefuls in April’s draft.

Crockett rushed for 709 yards on 147 carries and scored seven touchdowns during the 2018 season. In 30 career games, he tallied 2,252 yards and 19 touchdowns while averaging 5.9 yards per carry.

The general reaction to Crockett’s declaration on Twitter was positivity. His announcement was littered with “good luck” replies, and many stated their gratitude for Crockett’s work while wearing the black-and-gold.

With Crockett’s announcement, one can’t help but wonder about his health status.

Crockett, of course, missed the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31 due to a nagging ankle injury suffered during a Nov. 17 matchup with Tennessee. It also kept him out of the regular season finale against Arkansas on Nov. 23. His practice leading up to the Tigers’ bowl game loss to Oklahoma State was limited before he was ultimately ruled out.

The 2018 season wasn’t Crockett’s only season as a Tiger that ended with injury. Despite hoping to return in Missouri’s eventual loss to Texas in the 2017 Texas Bowl, Crockett missed the final seven games of the 2017 season with a shoulder injury.

With injury comes opportunity. Crockett is a product of that himself as he won the starting job as a freshman in 2016 over then-Missouri running backs Alex Ross and Ish Witter. He used that opportunity in 2016 to rush for what ended up being career highs in rush attempts, yards, touchdowns and average yards-per-carry.

Throughout the 2018 season, though, Crockett’s 2017 injury gave way for opportunities for running backs Larry Rountree III and Tyler Badie. Crockett ultimately had to share the load with the two running backs during the 2018 campaign.

Rountree, a sophomore, led the team in all 13 games with 1,241 yards on 225 carries for 11 touchdowns on 5.4 yards-per-carry. Badie played 12 games as a freshman and rushed for 447 yards and two touchdowns on 89 carries, averaging 4.9 yards per carry.

Though Crockett has proven himself viable for Missouri’s offense when healthy, it’s the amount of time that he’s spent unhealthy that makes Monday’s announcement slightly questionable.

Crockett has fans in Columbia regardless of the decision he made. However, there are only 32 fans that Crockett will need to impress when the NFL Draft Combine and Draft Day roll around in April.

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