West Virginia offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste has played his last downs as a Mountaineer. That is because Cajuste has stated he will pass on playing in West Virginia’s bowl game this season so he can begin focusing on the NFL draft process. Cajuste announced his decision with a message on Twitter.
Cajuste is coming off a year that saw him named All-Big 12 First Team as a lineman for one of the top offenses in the country at West Virginia. Cajuste choosing to not play in the bowl game is not the least bit expected given his potential draft stock and being a senior. This is, after all, the growing trend in college football during the bowl season, and now West Virginia awaits to learn if quarterback Will Grier will make a similar decision or choose to play in the bowl game.
As noted by Smoking Musket, decisions from wide receivers David Sills V and Gary Jennings are also looming in Morgantown. Sills did previously state he had a desire to play in the bowl game, although it remains to be seen if that will still be the case with West Virginia missing out on a Naw Years Six bowl game.
West Virginia is scheduled to play Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, Florida on Dec. 28. The old Big East rivals will play in a Big 12 vs. ACC matchup. It will be the second time the two schools have faced each other since West Virginia left the Big East for the Big 12, but the first since Syracuse left the Big East for the ACC. Syracuse beat West Virginia in the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl, 38-14.
West Virginia established a presence up front on the offensive line in a win against Missouri on Saturday, but one key player from that line has already been lost for the remainder of the 2016 season. Offensive tackle tore his right ACL in the game, and the injury will sideline him for the entire season.
Cajuste suffered the season-ending injury in the first quarter against the Tigers. Knee injuries are nothing new to Cajuste. It was just last year when Cajuste injured his knee midway through the 2015 season against Baylor. He missed the rest of the regular season for the Mountaineers but was able to return for West Virginia’s bowl game against Arizona State.
With Cajuste, a starter, knocked out of the mix for the rest of the year, West Virginia will bump redshirt freshman Colton McKivitz up to the starting line. McKivitiz took over for the injured Cajuste on Saturday. West Virginia’s offensive line played well against Missouri, which allowed Justin Crawford to run for 101 yards and Rushel Shell to pick up an additional 90 yards. Each scored a touchdown on the ground.
“Colton McKivitz went in there and did his job against a first round draft pick,” West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said, per West Virginia Illustrated. “That’s what needs to happen. When guys go down, guys need to go in and play at a high level.”
Knee injuries have already cost a couple of West Virginia players their seasons this year. Safety Dravon Askew-Henry tore his ACL in August. A few days later, linebacker Brendan Ferns went down with an ACL injury.