Crawford-Tufts no longer a member of track team

Gophers head coach Steve Plasencia confirmed the news on Saturday.

Jack Satzinger

Devin Crawford-Tufts will not run track for the Gophers this season, head coach Steve Plasencia confirmed Saturday.

“He decided it would be better for him not to compete this year,” the head coach said. “He wants to concentrate on getting his degree and some of those things.”

Plasencia said Crawford-Tufts informed him of his decision early last week.

Crawford-Tufts played football for the Gophers and started eight games at wide receiver in 2012. He was known for his breakaway speed on the gridiron.

That speed prompted a move to the track and field team, where Crawford-Tufts competed as a sprinter last year. He excelled in his short stint with the team, finishing fourth at the Big Ten indoor championships in the 60-meter dash.

In July 2013, the Edina  native made it official that he was leaving the football team to focus solely on track.

With his strong performance last season combined with a full devotion to track this season, the track and field coaches said they thought Crawford-Tufts could be a difference-maker in 2014.

“We had high hopes for him to be a real strong contributor in sprints,” Plasencia said.

And his absence has left a noticeable gap in the lineup to start the season. So far, sprints have been a weak spot for the Gophers.

Minnesota won last week’s Jack Johnson Invitational handily but didn’t have a single runner in the 60-meter dash final.

“We didn’t have much of a presence there,” Plasencia said.

Crawford-Tufts did not return multiple calls for comment, but Plasencia said his decision to leave the track team was drawn out.

“This was not something that was totally new,” Plasencia said. “He was kind of contemplating it on and off. It just got to the point where it was time for him to make the decision one way or another.”

Crawford-Tufts has the option to return to the track and field team in future seasons, which would be welcome news to some of his teammates.

Gophers sophomore Goaner Deng called Crawford-Tufts a “truly great friend” and a very talented athlete.

“No matter what he decides to do down the road, I’ll support him, regardless,” Deng said. “We could definitely use him.”